It seems only fitting that Bedlam Theatre, which was given to the Edinburgh University Theatre Company (EUTC) in 1980, hosts the University of Edinburgh’s improvisation group, The Improverts, every night of the Fringe. It’s a mainstay of the semester calendar, put on every Friday at 10:30pm to sellout audiences, and judging by the crowds milling around at Bedlam, they’ll be getting a similar reception tonight.
One Improvert is sent out to warm up the audience and get us all accustomed to the idea of shouting out suggestions – this time, it’s Mae, one of the group’s more experienced members. The questions she asks us get increasingly difficult, starting from “what’s your name?” and ending with “who would you cast to play the person sitting next to you in their biopic?”
From there, the audience are plunged into a quick-paced hour of improvisation games that all involve varying degrees of audience participation. The funniest is Should’ve Said, where the audience can shout “should’ve said!” after any sentence uttered by the performers, at which point they must backtrack and come up with a new one. The beauty of this game is that no idea drags on for too long, allowing The Improverts to flex their one-liner muscles.
Should’ve Said’s brilliance is especially obvious next to a couple of games that aren’t quite as cohesive, such as a panel show excerpt that meanders a little too much, even for improv. But it wouldn’t be improv if there weren’t slightly awkward sections, and The Improverts are masters of running with the ideas given to them by the audience. They accept the wackiest of suggestions with humour and grace, producing some excellent skits with them.
As they point out at the end of the show, each night’s performance is entirely different due to both changing players and changing games. But if this night’s show is anything to go by, you’ll be in for a treat whenever you go.