REVIEW: Improvengers Assemble

Peter Curry and Luke Dell think this show provides an intriguing window into the baffling minds of the Cambridge Impronauts.

| UPDATED ADC Cambridge cambridge impronauts Corpus Playrooms

Upon entering the Corpus Playroom, I did not entirely know what to expect from the Cambridge Impronauts’ latest comedy sketch-show, ‘Improvengers Assemble’, other than the fact that it would be very random: I certainly was not disappointed on that front.

A receptionist illuminati, ferret-mind-control and chess boxing were just some of the wacky inventions that came out of opening night, and I have no doubt that these oddities will continue for the rest of the show’s run.

Out of the cast, dedicated performances came from the director, Edward Elcock, as well as Joel Lipson, who both threw themselves into their various roles with tremendous energy and made the audience laugh with their clever one-liners. Michael Conterio and Alex O’ Bryan-Tear were also strong throughout.  Ben Dobson and Jack Lawrence appeared slightly reserved and a little nervous to start with, but they did eventually get into the spirit of things.

Jack Lawrence in Improvengers Assemble

It would be wrong not to mention Toby Marlow as well, whose excellent piano-playing helped to add a great atmosphere to the performance. James Gard and Peter Cuthbert also did a very good job with the shows improvised lighting. The venue too was well chosen, particularly for its intimacy and opportunities for audience interaction – an element sadly not quite used to its full potential.

In spite of this I could not help but feel that much of the comedy was aimed at a younger audience. There were no laugh-out-loud moments and the crowd were often left baffled at the sheer ludicrousness of what was going on in front of us. It was in this way that the Impronauts lost me last night: it seemed at times that even they were getting confused over their own concocted plot, ultimately resulting in a slightly unusual, but nonetheless unsatisfactory, ‘it was all a dream’ ending.

Joel Lipson in Improvengers Assemble

The superhero theme was also forgotten pretty quickly (along with the audience suggestion that the plot was to be based on the recent AntMan film), with last night’s action revolving around some unusual dream experiment rather than a crime-fighting protagonist. Sure there were villains, plenty of villains, but that was about the closest that the Impronauts got to the superhero theme.

Regardless, the Impronauts cleverly used flashbacks and dream sequences to flesh-out their story, even if it did just seem to make an already random sketch even more so.

Michael Conterio in Improvengers Assemble

Improvised comedy appears to me to be an acquired taste, one that I myself do not seem to have quite latched onto yet. But it might just have been a case of first-night-nerves, and with a different superhero being randomly chosen by members of the audience each night, you never know what to expect.

I hope that the Impronauts are more successful with their storytelling and character-development in future performances.

3/5 stars