REVIEW: Yo Ho Ho – A ‘Piraty’ Improv Show

Ahoy, readers! Are you ready to set sail towards an unexpected destination on an improvised route?

ADC Cambridge Cambridge University Comedy Corpus Playroom Improv improv comedy Theatre

Impronauts swarming around the place already in the shoes of badass, ‘err’-ing, at times drunken members of a piraty crew. It’s as if we were on the shores of Portugal, getting ready to pursue the next piraty prey. This time, however, it wasn’t gold but a treasure chosen by an anonymous member of the Corpus Playroom audience.

Suddenly, lights focus on the stage, where the crew gathers around wooden tables, knocking wine bottles to it as hard as they can, while bursting into hard laughter. This is when fate sentences the topic, drawn from a chest of small paper notes written by us beforehand, which is… Time.

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Much laughs, very improv

Never bewildered by such an abstract quest, the team of Impronauts dives right into it, thanks to the experienced and extremely talented James Gard. Playing the role of an old chap looking back on many years at sea,  he was practically the on-stage director,moulding the story pretty-much to his liking, changing scenes, reverting decisions, creating tension.  He knew exactly what to play to make a scene stand out and exactly when to cut a scene off.

Adi George, a.k.a. Captain, led the crew on this adventurous journey of love, hatred, hangings, duels, betrayal, adultery, deck cleaning, sail raising and all of the sort. He’s a good singer,  showcasing a capella for a verse or two until getting to more serious business – The Captain could at times be  patronising towards the female characters in the show. They say improv shows are all about saying yes to anything, but it seemed like the Captain denied most of his wife’s ideas of how to proceed further.

The lighting focused well on the central figure of each scene, ever returning to the old pirate, as he guided the story from the background.  The action is so quick and unexpected that it is, together with the piano, almost self-sufficient.  Simple and effective; well done Samuel Weinberger!

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The Impronauts all at sea

On a more general level, I had more than a few good laughs during the show. As I tend to be more of a serious person, I didn’t expect to laugh so hard. I particularly liked the way they were able to incorporate both funny, superficial moments as well as dramatic and sensitive, reflective monologues, helpfully emphasised by the dim light and piano playing.

As the story progressed, the scene succession was going so well, going back and forth in space and time, that I started wondering how much of it was made on the spot and how much well thought beforehand. They seemed to set themselves broad guidelines and checkpoints and went on improvising from there. From the middle onwards, however, there was no doubt whatsoever that they were making it up on the spot.

Overall, a both funny and dramatic show- light, not hard to digest and definitely a very enjoyable experience. It falls short of perfect, however, due to the  the occasional sense that some of it had been pre-directed. I totally recommend seeing it, but I also look forward to an unthemed, even more spontaneous improv show!

4.5/5 Stars

Editor’s note: Yo Ho Ho- An Improv Show is completely improvised, with no aspect of the show planned beforehand.