REVIEW: IMPROMPTUNES – THE COMPLETLEY IMPROVISED MUSICAL (Underbelly Med Quad) ★★★
The Impromptunes are an Australian theatre troupe that combine improvisation with musical theatre. They debuted at Melbourne Fringe in 2013 and have since taken their production to Perth Fringe World, Melbourne International Comedy Festival and Melbourne Fringe throughout 2014 and 2015. In 2016 they bring their one-hour show to Edinburgh Fringe.
The format is simple – audience members are invited to shout out a proposed name for a comedy musical, the cast pick the one they like and immediately launch into an hour of improvised performance. Our show was called “Zombies”. I have seen musical improv shows similar to this where a bit more information is gathered from the audience for example a setting, main characters and/or a general theme for the show, which, in my view, helps add a bit more structure and direction to the overall improvised performance, which I felt this show lacked to an extent. I do realise there is an irony to saying this about an improvised show! However, it appeared that it fell to one cast member (Isabelle Valette) steering the rest towards the theme.
The cast were talented singers and the stand-out performance went to Natasha York who delivered no less than two superb rap numbers completely on the fly – serious tip of the hat to that. The delivery of the improvisation felt somewhat lacklustre. Laughing on stage, particularly in comedy improv, can be a great device to enhance the humour and further draw the audience into the joke, however I think the amount during this performance tipped the balance.
These guys obviously know each other very well and pick up on each other’s cues bursting into four-part harmony brilliantly. No-one can take away from them the fact a show like this is incredibly hard to put on and do day after day for a whole month, a different show every time. Bravo to the Impromtunes in that respect, however this isn’t my top pick for musical improv this Fringe.
Reviewed by Pete Forbes-DuGrenier
IMPROMPTUNES plays at the Underbelly Med Quad until 29 August 2016