Calling this show ‘The’ Improv Musical is stretching it a bit. In a Fringe where there are other improvised musicals, this production from Music Theatre Warwick is a fun but pretty ordinary example of the genre.
The format is familiar: the audience first select a name for the musical, a location, the title of the first song, and a couple of characters for the company to work with. In a nice touch, the whole company are on stage during this process and throughout the show, so we’re able to see their reactions to the suggestions and their frantic whispering of ideas.
The show’s compere was a little overwhelmed by an enthusiastic full house shouting ideas at her (and seemed to overlook some of the better suggestions). We ended up with ‘Aaaargh, I Did it Again’, set in a space-station, featuring Britney Spears and a one-legged pirate. Of course.
The cast is quite mixed, and only Jim Burrows stands out for having particular flair. On the whole, the group seem too risk-averse to really excel. The best improv companies relish setting one another up, bouncing off their own mistakes and capitalising on the energy of spontaneous decision making. Music Theatre Warwick plays it too safe. In one scene, one of the cast members suggested that the character playing Britney should remind us all how the dance to ‘Oops, I Did it Again’ goes. She politely declined.
This cautiousness means that the company doesn’t deliver a great deal of plot in its allotted hour, particularly in comparison to other improv shows. It might serve it well to cut down the length of time for each scene, and hone its structure so that it can construct more interesting narratives.
The Improv Musical is pretty good fun – but it isn’t doing anything new with a genre that other companies really excel at.
The Improv Musical is at C (Venue 34) until 25 August. For more information and tickets, visit https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/improv-musical