By Natasha Nuthall, Second Year English
The Bristol Improv Theatre’s This Is Your Musical is an improvised musical theatre show in which chaos and hilarity ensues. With catchy songs, spontaneous charm and off-beat storylines, this is not a show to be missed.
An enthusiastic live band greet the audience upon entering the intimate space of Bristol Improv Theatre, and the glitz and glamour of West End musicals is replicated on a small stage with a single string of lights draped across a dingy curtain. The appearance of the troupe, garishly decked out in blue and yellow, assures us that – despite that lack of props, staging or costumes – they will deliver a spectacular performance.
Tonight’s musical is titled ‘I’m Not Marrying Gareth’, inspired by an audience member who registered her wedding under the wrong name. The call for storyline suggestions from the audience blurs the line between spectator and actor, giving the impression that we are all part of the troupe. The sunny disposition of the cast melts away one’s inhibitions, and our confidence soars during the storyline call out when one actor says ‘don’t worry, we’ll do cool stuff with it’.
The call for storyline suggestions from the audience blurs the line between spectator and actor
Storyline created, the cast begin. The opening number is ‘Will You Say Yes?’, an upbeat, pop-filled tune. The energy of the cast and effortless rhythm of the band is astounding, and not once do they falter. The bewilderment of the actors when the plot goes off-kilter is endearing, and the audience feel very much in on the joke. Indeed, we become part of the routine, when our laughter is so distracting one of the actors says, ‘hold on, there’s a very noisy bird outside, let me close the window.’
One of the joys of the show is that mistakes are allowed, and in some ways encouraged. Getting names wrong is part of the fun, and attempts at seriousness are undermined by the cast’s sharp wit. A particularly tense scene in which ‘Carly’ and ‘Ed’ descend into an explosive argument is interrupted by ‘Tony’, Ed’s loveable best friend, who insists on sorting through their Tupperware collection.
The musicality of the show is not to be scoffed at, either. Despite the lack of variety in lyrics, catchy refrains (such as the nightmarish yet brilliant ‘Ten Points on the Love Meter’) and hammed up dance routines shows improv at its best.
What shines through this production is how much the cast care about the audience. Following a brief interval, they embark upon a cabaret of numbers based on suggestions made by audience members. Yes, they poke fun at some rather strange ideas, but they really do fulfil their promise to perform a fun-filled musical extravaganza.
This Is Your Musical performs monthly on every third Friday. General admission is £10.
Featured Image: Lee Pullen
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