[author-post-rating] (4/5 Stars)
With 2014 marking ten years of improv by the Maydays, their Fringe show focused on delving into the audience’s memories of the past decade. While entering the Komedia’s darkened intimate downstairs room and being asked to write down my biggest regret did leave me a touch apprehensive this was soon blasted away. The energy and enthusiasm from the five performers in their improvised performance Maydays: The Last Ten Years had the audience laughing and cheering at their rapid wit, sharp satire and clever characterisation.
Opening the show by selecting an anonymous audience member’s memory from a bucket took away from the occasionally intrusive nature of improv. From the innocuously pathetic memory of ‘Ten years ago I had mushroom hair and huge feet’, the cast created a whole song about the ‘Mushroom Girl’ whose feet would not look out of place in a Tolkien novel. Building the whole first half from these random audience prompts led the cast to do performances on dreams, romances and travelling. Their spontaneous sketches were highly engaging and entertaining especially when communication occasionally broke down between the troupe, and confusion reigned on stage. Who would have known that ‘Batman’ does not only refer to a certain Gotham resident, but also a World War I officer’s servant?
The second half saw a change in perspective from the past to the future. Taking inspiration from a lady who claimed the secret of staying young was to not be around negative vibes led to an excellent prolonged sketch. Ranging from Polish immigrants, evil eternally young rich ladies, and a cat with poor bowel control, a hilarious skit was created. The second half was strengthened through the linking of these disparate sketches and songs, which helped unify the performance. The Maydays were also astute at sensing when an act was failing to engage the audience and would swiftly cut to a new angle.
Another great facet of this show is the fact the Maydays are Brighton based. Throwing in local references throughout gained a lot of crowd support and promoting local companies is a central aspect of the Brighton Fringe.
The Maydays put on a clever, funny and melodic performance inspired by the audience, which had everyone laughing. Whilst every show will be different, the capabilities of the company suggests that no matter what memory they pull out of the bucket they will be able to generate an gloriously comical and sharply observed scenario around it.
Maydays: The Last Ten Years played The Komedia Studio as part of the Brighton Fringe. For more information see the Brighton Fringe website.