Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton, Thursday 4th October, 2018
Any improv show is reliant on good suggestions from the audience. Tonight, our quartet of performers is faced with plenty of beans and chips related ideas – and they make a meal of it. Yes, I’m at another improv gig and this time it’s The Improlectuals. Hosting duties are shared by Richard Baldwin and Robert Lane, as they introduce the games, field audience suggestions, and stage-manage the action.
Baldwin is a good-allrounder, reaching particular heights of hilarity in a game which involves him divining from our reaction the action we have chosen for him to perform. His contortions eventually lead him to peeling potatoes in a supermarket trolley, and we couldn’t be happier.
Lane, another good-allrounder, distinguishes himself with his guitar playing, accompanying impromptu musical numbers, sometimes supporting, sometimes steering the spontaneous songsters.
Also performing this time are Matthew Dibbens and Nathan Blyth, a versatile pair. In fact, all four actors prove their talent, versatility and quick-wittedness but Blyth does all that while being rather good-looking, which is hardly fair.
Some of the games are familiar to those of us who recall TV’s Whose Line Is It Anyway? and others bring back memories of my drama teaching days. Some have better legs than others, some take off straight away, and some meander a bit, but on the whole, the hit rate is pretty high. We do a great deal of laughing out loud. A game in which the actors switch accents at the honk of a horn is an absolute hoot. A Chinese-whispers type game, done with action rather than words, works a treat, but for me the best games involve the creation of songs on the spot.
The magic of improv brings its own brand of tension, but when it clicks, as it does countless times tonight, it is truly marvellous to behold.
I would perhaps alter the running order a little, so the show has a stronger opening game, saving the Two-Headed Emails for later on, when we have warmed to the performers – which doesn’t take long at all!
A very funny and entertaining evening with no shortage of creative energy. The Improlectuals deserve larger audiences than the select group that mustered to see them tonight.