Fringe Review – Showstopper! The Improvised Musical (rating: 5/5)
This is an improv show where the audience is invited to suggest, settings, themes and styles for a musical that hasn’t yet been written.
MC Dylan Emery, who has a 15-year pedigree in performing and directing improv and also chairs Radio 4’s Showstoppers’ series, sets things in motion by asking the audience to suggest settings.
Offerings included the Great Barrier Reef, Disneyland and a haunted fish and chip shop. Surreal, I know. One was selected based on getting the loudest response. Haunted chippy, then. Someone provided the title – Deep Fright (no, not fried). Kudos to the guy, who doesn’t love a good word play?
This is a ten year anniversary show, so the whole format has been firmly tried and tested
Cue performers who came on stage suitably attired in aprons, and chef style hats. One might suspect that much of this is pre-arranged, but the full audience gets to have their say and suggested the show be performed in the style of Phantom of the Opera, Annie, Chicago, Dream Girls and Feathers.
Everything here is totally off the cuff, including the music. The lyrics are made up and performed on the spot. There are quick costume changes and the rotating cast move around their own props at a fairly fast pace for a 70 minute show.
Dylan Emery handles the direction and prompts the players throughout, even with flash back scenes.
It is said that in classic storytelling there are only seven narrative structures and this talented company throw most of them into the mix. It is mind boggling how the performers and musicians just communicate by nods and winks and Emery’s subtle suggestions.
Of note in this production is Pippa Evans who has a lot to do and gets the biggest laughs, and can also belt out a tune. Her take on the Dream Girl style was sensational, and all of the players should be commended for their Chicago parody with suitable actions, moves and accents.
Some audience members were on their second or third visits as the show serves up something completely new each night.
It’s sheer genius and unmissable. I might go back for seconds.
Showstopper! The Improvised Musical is at Pleasance Courtyard, until August 27 (not the 15th)