Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical - review

Written by: Peeny (@AdamPeeny)

Where's Peen been?
The Firestation Arts Centre, Windsor
Was Peen keen?

Truth be told, there are many things to doubt as you walk in to the auditorium where 90 minutes worth of musical theatre material is supposedly about to be improvised in front of you; the dialogue, the music, everything. What’s more – it’s all based on suggestions from the audience.

But, there’s very little reason to doubt, and as you leave the theatre still laughing and singing along to the silly songs you help create, you’ll understand why. It’s obvious the whole thing is genuinely made up on the night when you find yourself watching a musical named A Night Not To Remember which is set in a 1980’s University Students Union and the lead speaks to his Mick Jagger poster as well as the ghost of his dead father.

The personality of each performer really shines through which is one of the most admirable things about this thoughtful production: it proves a difficult task for even the performers not to find their production hilarious – though luckily, this is at a bare minimum. Pippa Evans, well-known to improvisation drama, does a fantastic job at smirking at how ridiculous some of the show becomes. Throughout, the musical is brilliantly mediated (and of course, “written”) by our Narrator, Sean McCann. To top it all off, they all have cracking singing voices too.

Most of all, the talent and frankly sheer bravery of Duncan Walsh-Atkins should not go unnoticed; watching the show at the same time as us (and finding it equally hilarious) he judges when the music will begin – hoping the cast will follow – and plays to the styles of musicians such as Sondheim and Katy Parry – and whoever else takes the audiences fancy on the night. Bravo.
            This is one of the very rare occasions you find yourself letting go of all expectations and unspoken rules in the theatre – let the actors laugh, believe the unbelievable (acting) without demanding a ticket refund, and go with the flow – this is arguably one of the most hysterical musicals around and the result is a brilliant night out at the theatre, with several people willing to make a fool of themselves on display.

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