Note: This review is from the 2016 Fringe

Improvised shows work best when they have a fixed formula to play with. When You Improv on a Star by the Cambridge Impronauts capitalises upon the popularity of the Disney franchise – and its recognisable format – to bring together an hour of hilarity and fantastical theatre that will appeal to audience members of all ages.

There aren’t many shows at the Fringe which will satisfy a six- and a 66-year-old, but this is one of them. The troupe of performers are clearly practiced and polished at what they do, achieving the right mix between professionalism and self-awareness. They never take themselves too seriously and willingly throw themselves into even the most bizarre of audience suggestions for the premise of the fairytale, resulting in a production that is spontaneous, funny and genuinely clever.

You might not think it possible to glean an entire hour’s worth of plot and intrigue from inside the beard of one of the cast, but the sextet ingeniously transplant the familiar Disney tropes to a facial hair setting with ease. The story is as predictable as expected, but the dialogue, songs and call-backs keep everything interesting and fresh.

Of course, some performers are more accomplished than others. Whether it’s a more polished singing voice or better lyrical ability, there are always going to be those who outshine their co-stars, but no-one is a passenger here and indeed, the smaller roles actually steal the show with their idiosyncrasies and one-liners on several occasions. Indeed, the weaknesses of the actors (such as not knowing when to wrap things up and move on) are turned into strengths by drawing attention to them for comedic effect, thus producing a down-to-earth and enjoyable show which thrives in spite of (or perhaps because of) its flaws.

Much of the humour will fly over the heads of the younger members of the crowd, and indeed it wouldn’t be surprising if the adults emerge from the show having had a better time than their offspring. However, for a family-friendly affair that guarantees laughs by the bucketload and a practiced outfit who know their improv ropes very well, it’s a joyous hour well spent.