Review: Dial M for Improv

RACHEL BIRCHER enjoys parts of ‘Dial M for Improv’, but finds the show flawed

ADC Cambridge Dial 'M' for improv impronauts review Theatre

Improvised comedy is always a hit and miss experience, and I am glad to say that that ‘Dial M for Improv’ had more hits than misses.

The show opened well with a series of short skits based on silly names written by the audience, and I was lulled into a feeling of confidence in the actors’ spontaneous wit that improvised comedy needs. It’s a shame that this feeling was not maintained through the entire performance, with some scenes reaching dead-ends after but a few lines.

The name-based skits were perhaps the most successful part of the show. Ted Hill responded particularly well to the names, and was at one point given the name of ‘Angus McTit-flannel’ and ran with it inspiringly, Scottish accent and all. Because this idea worked so well I was slightly disappointed there was not more audience participation and suggestions. As the audience were so on-board and warmed up they could have provided some witty inspiration, especially in scenes where the actors were obviously running out of ideas.

Improvisation and weapons. What could go wrong….

Another stronger aspect of the show was the impressively improvised music. The use of music helped to tie the show together and filled gaps where the actors were struggling with what should happen next. However, one criticism is that the music was maybe too subtle for such a silly and over the top style of acting, and the two styles really clashed. It would have worked better if music had been used more dramatically, with sudden shifts in the tone instead of just a background tune.

Of the actors, it was Ed Leacock who stole the show. He was constantly on the ball, responding to any possible feeders from the other actors and laying many of the foundations for the running jokes in the production.

So when it ‘hit’, it hit well; when it missed, it missed by miles. Some of the cast did not pull their weight, leaving the stronger actors to carry scenes. There were a surprising number of missed opportunities for punch lines. At times, even I could think of possible directions for the show, whilst the situation on stage remained static. This was especially evident at the end, when it was unclear whether the production was coming to a close and it was obvious the actors had no idea who they were going to make the murderer. It was a fast paced beginning, but a sloppy ending.

If you’re after easygoing, silly comedy, and you’re willing to put up with a bit of cringe, the show is fine. It’s just maybe worth a drink beforehand.

58%, a high 2:2