You can’t go to the Edinburgh Fringe without seeing some improvised theatre, and as Edinburgh University’s longest running improv troupe, have you really gone to the Fringe if you haven’t been to see the Improverts?
The Improverts’ shows are entirely different every single night. Not only will they come up with new improvisations based on the audience’s suggestions, but they swap cast members and interchange the games they play. On this particular night, Orla was the one to open the show, introducing the audience to the concept of shouting out ideas. Her excellent stage presence put the audience at ease, which is a difficult feat in theSpaceUK’s brand new venue, the Garden Theatre, as the open air nature of this stage loses the performer-audience intimacy that is so key in improvisation.
After a slightly underwhelming first sketch, the team settled into their rhythm with the hilarious alphabet game (almost as if the first game was only there to make the second seem more impressive). If you’ve seen Victorious, you’ll be very familiar with how it works: each character must start a new line with the next letter of the alphabet. The Imps looked like seasoned professionals as they spun themselves further and further into a web of ridiculousness—something about a bakery fundraiser by way of an old ladies’ underwear party. Though you soon begin to see through their tricks (every time ‘x’ rolls around, they can’t seem to think of anything other than ‘eXactly’), it’s brilliant fun.
The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the improvised raps. With ‘Sainsbury’s’ as the audience-suggested location, three talented Improverts came up with an elaborate rap battle about stockpiling baked beans—a humorous nod to the first lockdown and the UK’s manic obsession with clearing supermarket shelves. In true improv fashion, the sketch spiralled into chaos, transforming into a didactic tale about the importance of getting a balanced diet, topped off with an anthropomorphised bean fart.
Of course, as you would expect in improv, some of the scenes seem to drift away from their original brief. In the Spin Doctor game, for example, the teamwork of the cast was tested as the sketch descended into nonsense. However, the team’s ability to diffuse the confusion and get back on track is admirable, and makes up for the occasional awkward moment.
Luckily, the good sketches greatly outweighed the ones that didn’t quite land, making for an exceptionally comical and enjoyable evening. The Improverts are a staple of the Edinburgh Fringe, and I’m sure they’ll thrive even more next year with a late night slot in their usual home at Bedlam Theatre.
Words by Francesca Lynn.
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