Review: When you improv upon a star

Elsa Maishman 20 April 2016

The beauty of this completely improvised musical from the Cambridge Impronauts is that it will be different every night of its run. As such this is not a review of the show that you will see, but if the rest of the performances are anything like opening night, rest assured that it will be a show worth seeing. 

The Impronauts fashioned a brilliant musical, out of just a few audience suggestions (which were admittedly hilarious).The show was remarkably well constructed and rarely felt slow – a testament to the preparation which, ironically, forms the backbone of improvised comedy. 

The comedy troupe chose from a variety of audience suggestions and created a unique and completely improvised musical with the name “The Three Mountains” (the gimmick being the mountains are innumerable). Clever scene choices and character changes achieved a great deal of variety, while a surprising amount of continuity ensured that the show never felt lost – just mildly chaotic! Ben Dobson played an important role as lighting director, working quickly to make the show engaging and slick.

There were certainly weaker characters – Rachel-Marie Weiss’ part was functional rather than comic – and a good deal of the singing was, at times, relatively painful. However, singing in tune always poses a problem for improvised musical numbers, and it was understandable that the ensemble would chose cast members for their comic talent rather than their harmonizing capabilities.

Further on the musical side, the improvised piano accompaniment from Ed Elcock was effective and idiosyncratic, albeit formulaic, and certainly containing one too many Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones references.

The great strength of the Impronauts is their durability and dedication to the cause. Their enjoyment on stage during this show was hugely infectious, and what began as a reasonably slow and tentative performance quickly spiralled out of (measured) control, to the great pleasure of the audience. Nonetheless, a plethora of academic research-based jokes meant that some of the crowd may at times have felt ‘out of the loop’. Genuine class was added by the beautiful singing voice of Adi George, while Peter Lunga grew wonderfully into his role.

These are a genuinely talented bunch, and I urge you to head to the Corpus Playroom this week and enjoy their show.