Preview: Keeping up with the Kimprov

Unscripted, totally improvised, and a unique show every single night

The Cambridge Impronaunts are behind Keeping up with the Kimprov. As Cambridge’s oldest improv troupe, they have a history of great shows, from sketch shows like Quickfire! to hour-long improvised plays such as Whim City, The Once and Improvised King, and Improgedon. They are soon to celebrate a 20-year anniversary in 2023, and Keeping up with the Kimprov is their latest – and perhaps most ambitious – show to date.

I say ambitious because, from the 17th to the 19th of March, they will be taking to the ADC Theatre stage to create an entirely new show each night – a different family, with their own issues and relationships, every time. I’m told by the team that run-throughs so far have already generated plots such as the panic about Daddy Damon’s Doughnut factory that could no longer put holes into doughnuts, the all-you-can-eat-on-yourself food party, and family-morning-swims in an unheated hot-tub. This “homage to reality TV” promises a show of chaotic hilarity with the audience in the driving seat each night.

Image credits: Damian Smith

But what exactly is improv theatre? At its core, the team say, it is “a way of collaborating with others to discover stories. The Cambridge Impronauts specialise in comedy performance, but there are some other superb performers out there telling dramatic tales. The ‘Nauts ‘rehearse’ together in much the same way that a sports team trains – we’re developing skills, learning to anticipate each other, getting better at seeing the possible next steps in the narrative.”

Unlike the previous Quickfire shows, put on by the Cambridge Impronanunts, Keeping up with the Kimprov’s audience interaction will provide the “initial seeds” for performance, which the improvisers will nurture and water.

Image credits: Damian Smith

Director Persephone Tsebelis had been thinking of the concept for years, stating that, “We talk a lot about the tropes of reality shows, and how we could incorporate them. What’s great is that we have a common vision of what we’re creating, and that’s key to a good story. Also, we won’t be relying on niche knowledge, so everyone can enjoy the show! … The stories they create will be heavily character-led, so expect high-emotions, unnecessary drama, and intense relationships!”

Keeping up with the Kimprov seems set to be an ambitious show, with its improvisational nature both sharpening the risk of chaos, but also establishing the unique hilarity each night. In the safe hands of the talented Cambridge Impronauts, this show seems to be shaping up to steer towards the latter. Keeping up with the Kimprov will be a unique night of total improvisation: a breath of fresh, comedic air at the end of this Lent Term.

Keeping up with the Kimprov is running from the 17th March to the 19th at 11pm at the ADC Theatre. You can get your tickets here. 

Cover image credits: Damian Smith