Review: Myths and Legends of Ancient Improv

Amelia Oakley 2 March 2016

Set in ancient times and narrated by Homer, the Impronauts set a high benchmark from which to begin their tale. The night begins with the audience writing names of fictional Gods on pieces of paper and then ‘Homer’ recants his legend. If studying Classics had been anything like this, I never would have quit.

As I sit here writing this review, I am still chortling at the bizarre characters and ludicrous sub-plots and side-stories. This review in itself is an unusual one, as the stories will change every night; it is this innovation that makes it so amusing and so unique. No two nights will ever be the same.

The continuity is never broken and the energy is always high as the story shifts from entertaining myth to totally insane gods. The unsung heroes of the piece are the lighting technician (Benjamin Dobson), who has to adapt to whatever the cast do, as well as Stephen Gage on the piano. Playing throughout the performance, the piano allows the tempo to change and tension to build, adding to the actual drama behind the giggles.

Of course if those are the unsung ‘heroes’ the true titans are the cast themselves. It appeared that they had been possessed by Dionysus, or whatever the Roman one is called, as they managed to improvise their way through an hour long story about King Indecisus. The flashbacks, flash-forwards and flash-sidewayses allowed for a break in the story and for the cast to input when struck by hilarious inspiration.

As a ‘classicist’ I was pleased to see the use of traditional Greek masks to portray the Muses (Musus in Latin) to add another dimension to the story telling whilst keeping to the theme of the performance wonderfully. On the whole the theme of ancient Greece was adhered to spectacularly, even with so many other jokes and gags to think of. This does not mean that it was dated: there were jokes about watches and Youtube having not been invented yet, and an (obligatory) offhand reference to Lord of the Rings. Even with this the show remained grounded in Ancient Greece.

Tonight’s story claimed to be one of Homer’s “top three” works and I can confirm that it was more entertaining than his other two. Fun is mixed with fantasy in this improvised show that offers it all, even authentic Greek homoeroticism and plenty of bleached white togas.