Review: A Series of Improvable Events

Holly MacAskill 13 June 2018


This Easter term, the Cambridge Impronauts have brought a delightfully playful brand of comedy to the Corpus Playroom, with their show titled The Cambridge Impronauts Present: A Series of Improvable Events. The opening night saw a tale of two orphans, Ella and Alice, whose parents died in a fire and moved to live with the married McGee couple, who provide hilarity throughout the show through their interactions. However, Count Scholaf has followed the children to the McGee house and intends to steal their inheritance by disguising as a female librarian. The drama that ensued, from the twin’s plan to reveal the identity of Petunia to the mime Jumping-Clap’s failure to uphold his act led to a night of laughter.

The format is easy to get on board with. When entering the show, you are instructed to write a word you’ve made up that describes an emotion and the corresponding description of that word. Then throughout the show the character Semony Lickett (a homage to the books the show is titled after) would read out the emotion that a particular character would have to play. The set up worked well, and more so when characters reused the ‘emotions’ in later scenes as well as the one where it was read aloud in.

As is usual with improvised shows, the first scene took a little while to get going, with dialogue between the McGees being the focus. However, once the twins entered and a suggestion from the audience about the special ability and knowledge of the twins was provided, the scene quickly found its direction and provided good comedy. Perhaps an audience suggestion right from the beginning would alleviate the problem of the first few minutes becoming stilted.

From here, the show was filled with moments of laughter, both at the dialogue between the actors and how they adapted to new suggestions, but also at the actors themselves when they muddled a name or got confused. Rachel Loughran was especially good at turning a little mistake into a laughable moment, such as confusion between her own character’s surname of McPhee and the McGee family name.

The pianist at the side of the stage was well integrated into the show, and credit must be given to the way in which the music was interwoven with the performance. Credit must also be given to Joel Lipson who stood out among the cast in terms of creating dynamism throughout the performance. His quick-wit and ability to pick up and utilise phrases which other cast members have used to create comedy must be commended and is something other improvisers can aspire to do as eloquently. The show is a success in the way that it kept the audience laughing throughout – not just at the actors, but primarily through their actions and dialogue. All in all, the play may be a series of improbable events, but it is certainly not a series of unfortunate ones.