Setting the scene early, the actors/improvisers welcome the audience into a theatrical world of thespians and performers. The Old Council Chambers of Trades Hall is a great room to hold this show. Further adding to the atmosphere, the musical accompaniment to this show was excellent and helped set the tone for each scene.
An impressive element of this show was the focus on story and character, which provides a constructive base to build the humour. The performers did an excellent job of creating distinct characters, even when playing multiple ‘roles’ throughout the play. Without costumes or props, the performers were identifiable to the audience and each other through tone, language and physicality.
Our short statured warrior used their physicality really well with animated facial expressions and mannerisms to create the character. Similarly, our married couple had a great dynamic and demonstrated chemistry as they built their characters seemingly based on one scene of interactions. The wife’s private aside to the audience was a bit of Shakespeare fan-service that I particularly appreciated.
The language-side of the performance had some standouts, with the lead witch and a trusty accountant rhyming in Shakespearean tone and style superbly! In contrast, the physical elements of the play felt a little raw, with ‘play’ fighting quickly becoming stale when used repeatedly.
Repetition is an element where the show occasionally lost me in physical humour and punch lines. Two key elements of comedy are timing and repetition but it is important for performers to know when the well is dry and a particular reference needs to be put away (even just until the next scene) or even better, expanded upon.
The developing plot drove the play and gave it a central narrative. The performers could have been more confident in deciding when to end a scene, though this is a minor point. The performers generally demonstrated coordinated teamwork, reading the vibe of the characters and having each other’s back when a scene needed re-adjusting.
You do not need to be a Shakespeare fan to see this show. If you have an understanding of the basic elements of the language or the main themes you will have a more enjoyable experience, but these are certainly not required.
Improv and I traditionally do not get along, but this considered I became invested in the characters, laughed far more than I expected and enjoyed the play as a whole!
For an evening of Shakespearean fun, check out ‘Completely Improvised Shakespeare’ from 30 March to 23 April 2017 [no Wednesdays] at Trades Hall. For more information and to book tickets, click here!
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