One of best laughter-providing forms of performance that you can possibly see at the Edinburgh Fringe is improv comedy. However, even the best improv show can become even more hilarious if it has a special twist—so why not mix the humor of the spontaneous gag, with something as remote and unrelated as horror, prepping an absurd, spooky and ridiculously funny cocktail? Moreover, what better place to serve it than Edinburgh, reputedly the most haunted city in the world?
The five guys of The Sinister Tales of Doctor Synistra, sporting dark, macabre make-up and vintage matching costumes, take turns wearing the hat and glasses of Doctor Synistra—the possessive host of the show—who leads the cast into performing improvised horror stories based on audience suggestions. The weirder the prompts, the funnier the tales they invent, proving the unwritten rule that the most harmless of settings, can give life to the most gruesome and horrific of scenarios (often to the surprise of the troupe themselves).
Borrowing elements from the language and imagery of horror films, the quintet come up with vivid, almost cinematographic details that make the terror more alive, farcical and indeed more giggle-eliciting. However, as we all know, the devil is in the detail. Although undoubtedly the cast members boast both vivid imaginations and great acting skills, sometimes their reactions are not quick enough, which can lead them abruptly altering the course of a particular story that has already unfolded in another direction.
Nevertheless, this shortcoming does not deprive the performance of its original and highly entertaining edge that makes it a worthy Fringe show.