More than a momentary success

Bethany Sims 13 October 2007

The last time I saw Alcock Improv was in a cold tent at Emmanuel College at three in the morning. They were play-acting rather wooden Lego people- the girls especially awkwardly- for a lethargic audience of ball-goers who didn’t want to play. Four months, and a run at the Edinburgh Festival later, Adjoa Anyimadu, Lucie Fortune, Mark Gardiner, Tom Hensby and Jessica Barker-Wren are playing at the ADC, with an audience gaffawing affectionately. Alcock seem to have developed into a comedy group which now really fits together; connecting with each other and bouncing off their audience.

To describe how Alcock Improv works is to run the risk of making their sketches sound like GCSE drama games , and sell short a show that soldout every night in Edinburgh, but Alcock do go for no fuss, unpretentious makebelieve. They do doctors and nurses, mums and dads. They do all the stereotypes, with a good line in agism and selfconfessedly bad accents. But they are quick, slick and know when they’re onto a winner and when the joke’s a dead horse, before they start flogging it.

It’s odd to recommend a show which tomorrow will be completely different. The murder of Mahatma Ghandi with a guineapig (because it’s Monday) is not an event likely to repeat itself. Though I have no doubt the blues guitar will be given plenty more outings, I am sceptical whether Paris Hilton will be having any more issues with stilton in the next few days.

Alcock is shamelessly daft and there is the odd garbled word, moment of complete bewilderment, and pause while the motley crew get their breath back. Certainly the most appealing thing about Alcock is not polish, but that the experience on stage seems as good, no, better, than being sat on a cushioned, fold-down chair in the audience. The actors look like they’re having a bloody good time, a good enough time to make you green-eyed. Heckling is not audience participation enough. When the bucket of water comes out with the last game of the evening, a sort of comedy relay, you’ll wish it was you with your head in the bucket. You will want to play.

Bethany Sims