‘The Improverts Exam Shows’ (Teviot Hall: 14 – 15 May ’15)

“The depth, pace and energy with which entirely new characters and situations were delivered was really impressive.”

Editorial Rating: 4 Stars: Nae Bad

There was that telltale buzz of excitement around Teviot Hall as crowds gathered before the show. This established university comedy troupe clearly have quite a following as the 250 seat auditorium was all but bursting at the seams, so I was looking forward to curtain up. I placed myself discreetly in the fifth row, hoping that surely I wouldn’t be reprimanded for laughing too loudly twice in one week …

For those unfamiliar with how an improvised comedy evening like this works, the players present a selection of structured “games” where each scenario is improvised based on audience suggestions. We saw everything from chat-show interviews, accounts of holidays including improvised photos, and a party with an array of obscure guests. What was most impressive about the performance was the dexterity with which each player was able to pick up new characters and respond to every challenge set before them with alarming speed and intuition.

While one may take this for granted in an improvised show, the depth, pace and energy with which entirely new characters and situations were delivered, and engaging, flowing scenes made from spur of the moment decisions was really impressive.

A particular highlight was the Alphabet story, where two players created a scene, each of them starting their lines with the next successive letter of the alphabet. It was an absolute wonder that their minds were able to think quickly enough to work out what the next letter was, let alone create a riveting tale of a xenophobic ice cream maker and a lactose intolerant customer.

The line which got the most laughs on the night was in relation to a scene on butter churning (obviously), where the players were trying to outdo each other in performing Oscar winning style speeches. When the topic of butter churning slaves was brought up, there was no comeback after the utterance of “I don’t want slavery on my toast”.

For me, it was Isobel Moulder who powered through with the most interesting accents.

While the range of topics and scenes covered was vast, the troupe, for whatever reason, tended to steer clear of current affairs or more topical situations. One audience member did suggest (and a player capably delivered) a character of David Cameron’s conscience for one scene, but it would have been interesting to see the added dynamic of bringing in one or two more topical references. Indeed, while the level of audience interaction was enough to feel like we were included, but not too much as to get tiresome, it would also have been good to see a little bit more creativity from the players in using suggestions: for instance, referring to some of the rejected ones throughout or having the confidence to switch the direction of a scene towards a different suggestion part way through, perhaps.

On the whole it was a very accomplished evening of comedy, professionally delivered, and well worth looking out for in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe later this year.

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Star (blue)Star (blue)Star (blue)Star (blue)

Reviewer: Steve Griffin  (Seen 15 May)

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