Review: Lock, Stock and Improv

The Tab team is split – SOPHIE BAUER likes what LOTTIE UNWIN hates.

ADC Comedy Improvised Lock Lottie Unwin Sophie Bauer Stock and Improv Theatre

Lock, Stock and Improv

12th – 15th January, 11pm at the ADC Theatre

Directed by Clare Stevenson

Improvisation: if anything this is the chicken Jalfrezi of comedy, making sketch shows seem like eating a Korma with a glass of water at the ready. It is the femme fatale to stand up’s domestic housewife…and if Jack Bauer were comedy, he’d set his timer to the rhythm of improvisation and Superman would be up on the stage telling knock-knock jokes. You get the point: Improv is for risk takers and those, I assume, supremely confident in their skills in the art of funny-ness. Approach with caution…

SOPHIE BAUER gives the production ***

There are so many potential problems and dangers with improvisation that you wonder why we bother with it. All you need is some idiot on the front row answering ‘sex’ to each of your questions and you may as well return to your essay on utopias. The line between hardcore wit and pub like banter is sometimes too thin for comfort, so I attended ‘Lock, Stock and Improv’ with the appropriate dubiousness, expecting that I would be presented with either a car crash of a performance or a narrow escape from collapse into a humourless minefield.

I must say I was pleasantly surprised with the evening’s production, though don’t forget that no two nights will be the same. The evening of the 12th did have a squeaky clean earnestness about it, and overall it was a great testament to the actors in that they were able to create a story out of the sometimes unimaginative drivel that came out of the audience. They actually did craft something that was entertaining and brought it to a clever conclusion that we oohd and aahd at with pleasure. I even found charm in the mishaps, enjoying the change from pretentious wannabe slick productions; hats falling off and whatnot are amusing in a primitive kind of way…

To be honest, audiences are pretty easy to please,  a few cheap tricks up your sleeve guarantee a giggle- stereotypes and accents (amongst others that night- Welsh, Italian, New York Gangster…), sex (“it was amazing what you set in my stocking Santa”) and innuendo (“they think they can take and take without receiving”) “. Done.

However even I, niceness personified, found some of the performances a little lacklustre and a few moments fell into the barely smile raising category. But what do you expect from improvisation? Of course it wasn’t as tight or polished as it could have been had it been meticulously scripted, but improvisation really has the potential to set the real talent apart from mediocrity. I stand by the fact that overall the performers managed with great finesse to keep the story going along an interesting route to a universally funny comedic conclusion.

Get yourself down to the ADC this week and see an hour of genuine talent and on the spot chuckle inducing material.

LOTTIE UNWIN gave it a doubtful * and a half

Sophie Bauer comes from better stock than I do.  While I dream of a day that I will be ‘a grown up’ and seeing ‘Penis’ written in the dirt on the back of van won’t make me snigger, I am not there yet.  Not only did I relish in the shouts of ‘sex’ from all around me at last night’s Lock Stock and Improv but I also got involved.

So many of the performers were so wooden they might snap and while my heart really does go out to everyone involved I have seen much better improv.  The presenter did relax but for an agonizing 20 minutes tried to rally an unimpressed audience from behind her fringe.

The ending was bloody clever, but I won’t spoil it and wonderfully it will be different everynight.  What more, for my star and half, there were moments of exciting comic chemistry.  Do go and see it to savour that magic, especially if your more mature than me, but I say keep the notion that ‘It’s the taking part that counts’ in your breast pocket.