The idea is simple: the audience provide the genre, title and setting, and Mischief Theatre creates the movie. Once we’ve chosen our film, movie-buff Oscar delves into his collection (the biggest in the whole world, he boasts) and presses play. Then he hands us over to the cast of young improvisers and the result is Lights! Camera! Improvise!,a slickly executed piece and a whole hour of laughing.
Quickly grabbing costumes and props from the stage-side rails the cast jump into the story. Tonight’s offering is a fantasy film about a convent which one quick-witted audience member christens ‘Dirty Habits’ but it could equally have been a romance about binmen or a sci-fi set in Sainsbury’s.
Mischief Theatre’s no-frills approach means there’s just a smoke machine, some dramatic lighting and a pianist for accompaniment which leaves very little margin for error. They really don’t need any margin at all. The performers are superb, making the tricky improvisation look easy and clearly having as much fun as their audience. Oscar occasionally pauses the film to make the cast show us his favourite parts and behind the scenes footage. He also deftly explains plot details, reining the cast in when the action goes a bit too off piste, and keeps an eye on the time. Mostly, though, the actors just do their thing, caricaturing legend and popular culture alike and letting the laughs roll in as they riff off each other and turn even their few mistakes into lightning fast gags.
Lights! Camera! Improvise! – The Improvised Movie is everything improv comedy should be and more. It’s hardly surprising that the company has received so much critical acclaim and is about to bring its most popular show ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ to the West End. Mischief Theatre’s live epic movie is simply brilliant.
Lights! Camera! Improvise! – The Improvised Movie is at Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33) until 25 August. For more information and tickets visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.