Edinburgh Fringe Review #9: The Improv Musical

Happy Wednesday! Well, it’s not exactly a happy time for the weather is it? It may be August, and we may technically still be in the summer holidays. However, as I write this, it’s rained solidly for 3 days, and I’m heavily contemplating whacking out my Timberland boots and my new coat for the season. In August. Well, that wasn’t the weather for when I saw the Improv Musical at all! After I saw Tania Edwards, I had around half an hour to make my way over to C Venues, and I knew I was busy for the entire evening after this, so that was my dinner time. I stumbled across Piemaker on Nicholson Street and had the Macaroni Cheese pie, which I can only describe as a culinary delight. It needs to be brought south of the border immediately, it’s just delightful and was, surprisingly very satisfying. However, The Improv Musical was a lot more satisfying. I do love improvised comedy, it really tests the performers on stage in a variety of ways. More often than not, some improvisation can come across as extremely amateur, and it’s clear that the performers on stage are not comfortable with the scenarios that the audience have conjured up. But, that was not the case with the Improv Musical. Once again, they demonstrated just how talented the people of Warwick University are and I am a very proud friend indeed.

The Improv Musical is yet another facet of performing musical theatre that the society ‘Music Theatre Warwick’ sent up to the Fringe. It’s been running for a few years, growing from strength to strength, and always selling out their shows whenever they perform on campus. The format of the show is very simple, which allows every audience member to fully understand what is going on. It doesn’t leave anyone behind and is fully inclusive of everyone’s suggestion. This makes sure it is truly an hour of pure, improvised entertainment just from the minds of the performers subjected to the task of creating an improvised musical on stage. The host, in this case AJ King asks for a location, a couple of characters, the actual title of the show and the name of the first song. Then, the audience can sit back and relax to watch a premiere of a brand new show that will never be seen again. So far at the Fringe this year, they’ve been in a knitting circle in a retirement home, someone has had to play the Pope and Buzz Lightyear (not at the same show, thank goodness). But, what’s great is the wittiness of the show titles. One show set in an ocean was called ‘Oceans A-Heaven’. On the whole, the show is in our hands! The show that I went to see was called “I’m Afraid of Water”, and you’ll see in the picture below just how zany the show really was.

Improv Musical 1

As the cast came out, I was very fortunate in that I had never seen any of the six perfomers before this show, so it really was a treat to be in the audience and see how they deal with the improvised craziness that Warwick University has come to love. As well as this, each performer had an equal amount of time on ‘the floor’ to shine. Not one member of the cast was overworked or undervalued, they all clubbed together to ensure they could create a cohesive plotline based on the various suggestions from the audience. As our show was in Seaworld, the first song was called ‘I Met David Attenborough Once’. I actually suggested ‘Wet, Wet, Wet’ but this didn’t win audience approval. Gutted. Although it didn’t do as bad as ‘A Penguin With Tourettes’ (classic Tom Slade…). To tackle this musical number, Robin and Abhilaash came on as dolphins and sang about how they hated being trapped at Seaworld, which began a reminiscing number on how they had once met David Attenborough. Before I continue this review, I must stress that the music is also improvised, and a heavy commendation for this show must go to Fraser Bernstein. Without him, the show would not glue together in a professional manner anywhere near the level that it is. He played excerpts of ‘Part of Your World’ when the dolphins wanted to break free. It’s these little nuances that transformed the show from a simple game common in a rehearsal room to a Fringeworthy production.

The first song had finished, and we were then welcomed to Matt and Danielle who played what would be the villains of the show. Their song ‘We’re More than just a Drop in the Ocean’ was extremely clever, but the synchronised dancing from the other performers once again showed just how well the cast work as a unit. They all understand what it takes to create a simple routine that everyone can remember and be spontaneous with their movements. Quite simply, just amazing work all around. Another stellar performance came from Lani who played the role of a Greenpeace employee. Lani is a lovely girl, who was absolutely hilarious during this performance. Bravely, she took on a whole scene by herself, and alluded to the idea that a Greenpeace worker is all say and no action, which led to great laughs from the audience. She then realised that her purpose is to release all the animals, as this is the only thing that is on her checklist. Later on in the performance, she allied with an overworked Seaworld employee, masterfully portrayed by Jonny who worked together to set the dolphins free. This also brought their relationship closer together, adding a nice little side-plot to the story.

Improv 2

The show then stopped. AJ walked back onto stage and said the cast were having it too easy, and we needed to suggest a character that we wanted for the next song as well as a style of music that the song would be sung in. The audience settled with Tom Daley and Reggae, although one audience member suggested we actually needed a character who was afraid of water. This was an absolutely classic moment of upstaging from the audience. Matt then walked onto stage, giving us his best Tom Daley impersonation whilst attempting to reggae-rap like Iggy Azalea. What a time to be alive is all I can say, it was madness on stage but it was truly appreciated by the audience.

We were now nearing the end of the show, and there was a happy ending. The dolphins were set free, the evil CEO of Seaworld learned from his bad behaviour and turned good, and we were treated to a ‘Where Are They Now’ moment. On the whole, the show was brilliant and I love going to watch the Improv Musical. However, for me, nothing will beat the Improv Musical that I saw as part of Warwick Student Arts Festival, where Joe insinuated the rhyme of recliner and vagina. Yet, the quick-wittedness of the whole cast should truly be commended, and you’d be missing out on not going. Plus, it’s a lot cheaper than the Showstoppers, so support upcoming brand-new talent whilst you can! For an emoji, I’d give them a plane emoji as they have to ‘take off’ with whatever is given to them and arrive at the end destination of a fully-fledged show.

You can purchase your tickets for the Improv Musical here: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/improv-musical

For a song, I’m going to use my favourite improvised song from Whose Line Is It Anyway featuring Wayne Brady and Kevin Mchale: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rzPfszALwc

Enjoy,

Sophie x

Why don’t you check out my last review, where I saw Tania Edwards, and my next review of Joe Lycett?

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