By Tasha Nuthall, Second Year English
Welcome to Newton, a murky seaside resort featuring a 24-hour crazy golf course, a newly-built concert hall that is now splattered with vomit, and the most bizarre troupe of characters. Yes, this is “Closer Each Day: The Improvised Soap Opera”, the longest running improvised narrative in the world. And it is truly brilliant.
Playing out to audiences every other Monday evening, the show sells itself as “EastEnders via the League of Gentlemen and Love Island”, with scandals, twists and turns featuring in every ‘episode’. Tonight’s plot centred around the aftermath of a highly-enjoyable foursome, interwoven with subplots exploring feeder fetishes and the anticipated opening of the new concert town hall. A peculiar mix of storylines, yes, but it flows seamlessly; the scenes are often as little as ninety-seconds long and culminate in a non-sequitur exclamative by one of the characters, playing out to raucous laughter and applause. At one point, a scene ends with stomach rumbling, courtesy of Jack Drewry, the sound designer of the production.
Despite having been performed since 2011, the show retains a newness, helped of course by the wacky improvisation. The inclusion of songs, often encouraged by the wonderfully dippy Debita, is met with both mild amusement and bemusement by the other cast members. Hilarity ensues when the narrator cheerfully announces the rendition of an earlier improvised number and smarmy orchestra enthusiast Anthony quips, “we’re going to perform the exact words of that song…?”
The most spectacular aspect of “Closer Each Day” is the sheer silliness of the entire production. I’m reminded of Victoria Wood’s classic Acorn Antiques sketch, with the grotesque caricatures, fuelled by their own clichéd dramas (the character of Eliza, for example, recently saw her beloved bookshop burn down and laments that she’s much better with shuttlecocks than tennis balls), and the kitsch 70s soap opera score provided by the sound team who, in an unusual turn, are at the front of the stage, visible to the audience. What strikes me is the immersive quality of the show – we are invited into the debauchery. Mistakes – such as bumping into onstage props and calling characters by the wrong name – are welcomed by the cast and audience alike.
At the end of the show, the narrator invites the audience to return for the highly-anticipated season finale. And I’d highly encourage you all to do the same.
Closer Each Day: The Improvised Soap Opera plays every other Monday at the Wardrobe Theatre. Tickets cost £10.
★★★★★Featured Image: The Wardrobe Theatre / Daisy Tian Day
Will you be following the twists and turns of Closer Each Day?