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Edinburgh Fringe 2023

Lights Up! The Improvised Musical


Genre: Comedy, Improvised Theatre

Venue: The Space on the Mile


Low Down

A musical comedy that is improvised.  Each night the story and songs are created on the spot by the five performers. Never the same show twice.



Walking into the auditorium hearing Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen playing created the upbeat tempo that the show was not going to dappen. A fun song instantly created a fun mood.  The stage is pre-set with a couple of chairs and a keyboard.  A near empty space for the performers to create from scratch. They emerge with high energy which is sustained throughout.  All five performers are wearing plain green jumpsuits, giving them a neutral feel. The audience choose a non-geographical location that the show can be set in, and then they improvise around that choice.  This evening the choice was a mad scientists laboratory.  Over the 45 minutes it went from a science lab at a school, to a story about the science students wanting a role in the school’s production of The Sound of Music. One of the students ended up getting the role of ‘the tree’ and ended up dating the lead performing arts girl.  No spoilers here for this plot will never happen again.  It did not matter that the show ended up being about a school production rather than a mad scientists laboratory, for the location was only a stimulus for them to generate a starting point.


The most impressive element was the singing, which was at such a high standard, especially when improvised. When possible, the performers, when not singing the lead, would join in and accompany with backing vocals. These additional vocals harmonised in a basic manner which nicely complimented the leads.  The actors quickly recognised the key being sung and joined in like they had been singing the tune for years. The tune and the key would sometimes originate from the performers and the keyboardist would join in. Other times the keyboardist would initiate the melody and the performers would follow his lead. Both methods being equally as successful.


About fifty percent of the time the words managed to rhyme within the verses which is another example of how quickly they think on their feet.  When a rhyme worked well the performers would remember it and repeat it later in the show, just like many musicals do, which helped to create clarity in the ever-changing narrative.


Group work needs to be so solid in improvisation which they did not fail on.   The actors appeared as a supportive group and went with any ideas that were thrown their way from each other, whatever they may be, and this is why it worked so well. Teamwork being at an all-time high with this company.


Elements of the show became chaotic due to the performers simply choosing the next section of the narrative as it happened. The actors did not hide this, they were happy so show us when they were a little lost, hunting for ideas, or getting confused with what another performer was doing. They made it part of the performance. Everyone was aware it was improvised so it was great to see them being themselves as well as their characters.  The plot did have a beginning, middle and end, so a clear story was still produced.


Would highly recommend for audiences who want a feel-good show.  A piece where the viewers do not need to concentrate, just sit back and enjoy the fun. Being improvised this show will never have a high standard narrative, but that is not what it is about.  Fun, laughter and an easy-going entertaining night out is the correct expectation.


Lights Up! The Improvised Musical amuses musical theatre fans. The sheer energy and fun that the performers are clearly having cannot help but transfer to the audience’s mood. Everyone in the room laughs together for nobody knows what is going to happen next.