Review: Paul Merton’s Impro Chums (rating 4/5)
Improvisation is a popular format, with numerous shows of varying quality picking up on the template created by television series Whose Line Is It Anyway? in the 1980s.
Among the spin-offs, Paul Merton’s Impro Chums is a sure-fire winner, drawing on a team of experienced stage and radio performers Lee Simpson, Richard Vranch, Suki Webster and Mike McShane, who develop ideas thrown at them from the audience, accompanied by Kirsty Newton on keyboards.
The madcap humour includes takes on Shakespeare and a chat show but despite the general idea that everything is made up, there is a broad format to give some structure to each sketch which might otherwise fall apart. Even so, the joy and challenge is that every night’s performance is fresh and the cast, as well as the audience, don’t quite know what to expect.
Merton has made a career from improvisation – television’s Have I Got News For You and the long–running radio series Just A Minute – but this is no one-man show. The biggest laughs at our performance were for Simpson’s gobbledegook attempts to put on a belly dancing show while talking about his stamp collection.
A packed audience in one of the Fringe’s biggest venue tells its own story. Recommended.
Paul Merton’s Impro Chums, Pleasance Courtyard Grand until 17 August