Notflix: The Improvised Musical is the first live performance I’ve seen since March. It is so welcome to be in the night air surrounded by the hubbub of people coming together to see the magic unfold. We all sit in a beautiful Victorian courtyard on this warm August evening with an ice-cold Coke and feel part of something bigger, something I’ve desired for months.
Audience participation is a must in this show – we are asked to choose between a rendition of Kill Bill or The Sixth Sense. The Sixth Sense wins by a landslide. I do cheekily check-in with my friend about the plot so I can keep up with the action. I’m ashamed to say I’ve never seen it.
The action bursts across the stage, each performer breaking free from the group to start the verse or to change the scene. Skilfully accompanied by a pianist who has such impressive dexterity as he masterfully changes the tone seamlessly between sections of performance. The strength of this ensemble is in their strong relationship. Truly successful improv comes from reading the group and this is Notflix’s strength. The ultimate portrayal of girl power and sisterhood is the group’s ability to overcome the limitations of these times.
Wearing visors, the cast belt-out showtunes to an enraptured audience. I watch as one particularly enthusiastic audience member dances along to all their movements. Filling the space with quick-witted humour and laughter, sometimes you see performers off-stage having to compose themselves because the most recent comment is just too ridiculous to not smile.
The performance for me is held back by the issues I had with catching the words. This is an issue with performances in visors; words get muffled. I struggle to hear a significant chunk of the action and I only feel disappointed when I hear a titter, or worse, rapturous laughter from the audience. This is no fault of the performers but it does limit my enjoyment of the performance.
I do think that under the right circumstances without the visors, and without the gothic building soaking up words projected into the night that this could have been an incredible show. It is a hugely fun and inventive hour, and really lifts my spirits. I would love to see this group again whether that be at the Vaults or at the Fringe in order to see them at their peak and not when they are hindered by social distancing.
Notflix: The Improvised Musical runs until 11 August, 2020 at The New Normal Festival. For more information and tickets, visit The New Normal Festival website.