2012: An IMPROV Odyssey

Sun 19th – Sat 25th August 2012


Charlie Brookhouse

at 22:06 on 19th Aug 2012



Improvisation. It’s not rocket science. This must be the assumption of the “impronauts” from 2012: An Improv Odyssey. The impronauts cast themselves as eight characters in search of an author and the audience, assisted by a compere, is required to determine the rough trajectory of the show’s narrative. Today, unfortunately, the predominantly middle aged, checked-shirt congregation preferred to goggle at boiler-suited Cambridge student, Donna Kitching, whilst she implored them to get the show rolling.

In a universe of comic chaos, the audience is required to determine a few constants. This is to be a sci-fi narrative. It must involve some sort of conflict with extra-terrestrials headed by a mad antagonist. Of course, any pony-tail in Games Workshop will tell you that no sci-fi film is complete without a warp-speed mode of transport and all baddies should be appropriately malformed. The audience christened the space ship Titanic (uninspiring from the earthlings), the antagonist Britney Spears, and the extraterrestrials Pogo-sticks. There was a Gold Fish Planet, which most of us forgot about 3 seconds later, and somewhere Ronald McDonald featured. This articulation of Edinburgh’s collective unconscious left a lot to be desired on the part of the impronauts. I was hoping for something more salacious from Fifty Shades’s demographic, and Hannah Wilkinson did well to anthropomorphise a Big Mac into a saucy seductress. Stella Frangleton, as Britney, couldn’t resist quoting the more provocative lyrics from Britney’s ‘toxic’ candy-pop but there are only so many times the words ‘baby’ and ‘hit’ can stand in apposition before things turn sour.

Space is clearly at issue in this show. It’s a shame that Rush Bar refused to allow the cast to reconfigure the room into a stage/backstage setup. This is a performance that promises to be out of this world and that is difficult to achieve when you’re constantly reminded of earthly limitations. The articulate compere, CJ, managed to maintain the show’s tempo, however, by balancing the roles of director, stage manager, prompt and narrator. With the addition of music from Jed Rose the performance achieved a level of cohesiveness. However, what was most impressive about this team of impronauts was their willingness to inherit the ideas and prompts of one another. Group improvisation is a bit like a game of hot potato and all of the impronauts heroically endeavour to squeeze every ounce of humour out of even the most mundane motifs. I’m confident that with a good audience and a bit more room the cast of this show will soon be seeing stars.


Jenni Reid

at 10:58 on 20th Aug 2012



Strikingly clad in bright blue boiler suits and bursting with energy and enthusiasm, there is nothing understated about the Cambridge Impronauts’ free hour of improvised comedy. The tiny venue was packed for their performance, and was awkwardly configured (the room, not the performers, fault) so arrive early if you want a decent seat. That being said, the group are good enough to make a number of adults feel it was worth sitting crossed legged on the floor for the entire show.

Handing out ‘potential missions’ to the audience at the start piqued interest immediately; getting the audience involved is one of the Impronauts’ greatest strengths. Although, really, this is only the role of CJ Donnelly acting as compère, who was funny, likeable, and got the show off to a good start. In fact these first ten or so minutes ended up being the most enjoyable part of the show, but meant that the spark perhaps peaked a bit too soon. The whole thing was entertaining enough, but rather than getting the audience more and more warmed up, laughs seemed on a downward trajectory. The ending itself was a little anticlimactic, with nothing particularly funny happening in the last few scenes meaning it lacked that final buzz that the audience can be left with at the end of some really amazing comedy. But of course, this is a piece of improv.

The plot was as crazy as you would expect, and seems likely to stay that way. The Impronauts are clearly no novices to improvisation, and their show works well because, whilst the content is made up there and then, a lot of thought and preparation has clearly still gone into the format and the performers work well as a team. We are given creative freedom as an audience, but it is always being subtly organised by CJ and the group. This performance was helped by a large and enthusiastic audience who were always ready with suggestions and not difficult to get laughs from. Not everything the cast did worked brilliantly, and some shone more than others, but this was overall a talented group of performers who are definitely worth a watch and who I would happily see again.


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