The witty and intelligent title of Comic Sans Men promised a night of female-empowering, engaging comedy and the talented, creative and funny cast by all means delivered. How refreshing to be able to watch a show comprised solely of brilliant and beautiful women!
Improv of course is no easy feat to do well but the eight performers pulled off a wide range of really funny sketches loosely fitted around the themes of music, old-people and dildos. What better combination you may ask?
Bella Hull – the host- introduced the show by asking for audience suggestions of themes and then expanding on the given theme by telling her own loosely related anecdotal stories, enabling the cast to draw ideas from what she was saying. Bella’s response to the first suggestion – music- and the explanation of what happened when she went on a youth orchestra trip some years before received many laughs, especially at her being aroused by the passionate cymbal player. The improv actors punned on this throughout the first section weaving musical references into their sketches. The second section was mostly about old people (but also dildos as someone in the audience had shouted this out earlier) with repeated references to a barbecue that Bella’s grandma put on every year- something that later got turned into her grandma living on a boiling hot space-planet where a barbecue in some strange turn of events meant cooking pancakes on the ground. Bizarre!
The pared back set with a single pianist who accompanied the action was effective as the sketches didn’t need an elaborate set. They worked well by themselves as the actors, all dressed in black, staged such witty and clever scenes. That being said, the first section of the play was definitely more tightly woven together with fresh jokes and ideas constantly introduced and strong thematic continuity while in the second some jokes were too repeated and drawn out.
Nevertheless, the cast worked so well together as a unit, tapping in and out of sketches almost seamlessly (there was inevitably the odd slip-up- such is improvised acting!) and it seemed like they were really able to play to each other’s strengths, repeatedly pushing each other outside of their comfort zones. They encouraged the other actors to sing, dance, recite poetry and when the momentum was lagging someone was always quick to tap into the action and introduce a new sketch. It seemed like in the rehearsal stage they really had put hard work into bonding, learning about each other’s acting abilities and were able to collaborate in a really amusing way. The wealth of ideas that each of them came up with was extremely impressive and there was such a positive audience response. A special mention must go to Francesca Bertoletti for her innovative characterisation and engaging physical movement and to Rachel Loughran for both her impromptu musical-theatre number and for impressively using her voice to distinguish between so many different roles.
I thoroughly enjoyed this original, funny and captivating show (as did the audience, reflected in the many standing ovations) and would really recommend going to see it if there are still tickets left!