Speak to 95 percent of actors and they’ll tell you that improvisational theatre is the one of the most difficult forms to do well. It’s incredibly tricky to sustain the drama of a scene whilst keeping it coherent, and you have to be very quick-witted and very generous to your fellow actors in order to do it effectively. It’s not really a skill that can be learnt, though it can be improved, and you either have a knack for it or you don’t. Most people don’t. Sadly, tonight’s performance of Nachtgasten at The Space in Canary Wharf was one that fell into that ‘don’t’ category.

Nachtgasten, or Night Guests, is formed of Dutch trio Koen Wouterse, Yorick Zwart and Niels Croiset, who each night of the run work with a different set of three guest actors (Costa Chard, Tanya Anakelis and Chloe Antonia) to create an hour and a half long performance. Wouterse, Zwart and Croiset take it turns each night to write the back-story of the piece, perform or introduce the show and explain the concept. Zwart began my experience of the evening, describing the charming beginnings of the company, and Croiset (tonight’s writer) then followed by spending the best part of 45 minutes giving our guest actors a character, a back-story, and three or four ‘secrets’ that they were keeping from the other characters. I can see the reasoning behind such a long preparation process: you need to give your improvisers some material to work with, after all. Yet by the end I’ll confess that I was little bored, and a touch impatient to actually see a performance. I wasn’t entirely sure that this preamble was completely necessary – perhaps the actors could have been briefed half an hour before we arrived and us audience members been given a less complicated abridged version of the story.

After a short break we returned to a minimalist dining room, and the story that had previously been described came to life. Chard played Tom, father of young Anthony, Anakelis was his ex-wife and mother of the unseen child, and Antonia and Wouterse played their respective partners. It was easy to tell that Wouterse was the veteran in this instance, as he helped the other three out of holes they’d dug for themselves, produced comedy and tragedy, and generally drove the scene onwards when it was getting stagnant. Antonia was very watchable and clearly a talented actress, but of the three Anakelis seemed most competent at breaking the long, awkward silences that filled the room, particularly when Wouterse was off stage. However, she did seem overly keen to play for laughs, and by attempting to turn emotional parts of the scene into a comedic ones she somewhat undermined the drama and her fellow actors. Chard inaudibly mumbled most of his quieter lines, staring moodily into space the rest of the time and only really perking up and demonstrating his ability during the high stakes towards the end of the piece.

Fundamentally, my problem with this production was that there were three exceptionally likeable and creative Dutch improv actors in a room, two of whom were standing watching three novice improv actors struggle with their scene. I liked the fact that the Nachtgasten team are trying to think outside the box, and whilst Anakelis, Chard and Antonia are probably fantastic with some Shakespeare, they stuttered and limped their way to the finish line in this instance in what felt like an improvisation workshop. Zwart stated at the beginning that we should respect the guest actors for their bravery, which I absolutely do, but if I want to spend £15 and witness bravery I’ll donate to Great Ormond Street and visit a children’s hospice.

Nachtgasten is playing at The Space until 24 September. For more information and tickets, see The Space website.