Edinburgh is the World’s festival city. From film, art and science to that great August spectacle – the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – Scotland’s capital already has an array of festival entertainment and now, following the explosion of ‘improv theatre’ in recent years, the genre has its very own Festival being hosted jointly this February at the Assembly Roxy and Scottish Storytelling Centre.
Tonight’s opening show brings two Fringe festival favourites together under the eaves of the main hall at the Assembly Roxy. The night opens with local improv troupe, The Spontaneous Players, and their ever popular take on the world of Harry Potter. The majority of the audience confess to being fans of J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world series but in an entertaining twist one of tonight’s ‘players’ does not. How will he cope with the endless references to the creatures and characters from the books? More than ably is the answer. Tonight’s fabulously chaotic improvised story has Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy proclaiming their undying love for each other, Ron Weasley single-handedly defeating the Dark Lord in the form of a ginger owl and Crabbe and Goyle becoming Paris fashion week’s most prized assets, but don’t worry, there are no spoilers here, as the show is different every night the Spontaneous Players perform (check them out at Monkey Barrel Comedy if you want to step into a Hogwarts you will never have encountered before…).
After a short interval the crowd reassemble for round two of tonight’s entertainment and are treated to a set by Irish freestyle rapper and stand-up comedian, Abandoman, aka Rob Broderick, who takes inspiration from his audience and turns their stories into entertaining raps and riffs interspersed with some hilarious and well-placed audience interaction. Stand-up is a notoriously difficult artform to perfect but to do it improvised is a whole new skill which Broderick has clearly perfected over the years.
If this is a blueprint for what is to come at the first ever Edinburgh International Improv Festival then audiences are in for a treat and plenty of laughs over the next few days and the festival itself could become a regular fixture in the city’s entertainment calendar.