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Musical Off West End Performance

Battle of the evening plans: a pub quiz vs An Improbable Musical

All right, it’s October again. The time when the option for a weekend barbecue in the garden, or a pool party spent on an inflated unicorn is less of a probable option. You may be looking for ideas for your weekend or evening that include some decent heating and a glass of bubbles. Let’s have a look at 2 of the options available right now in London, and battle it out for your next evening out. 

Contestant no 1: Pub Quiz

A total classic. No need to introduce it as you’ve probably done and won quite some of those (you haven’t lived if if you haven’t won one of those!) 

Contestant no 2: a newcomer based in Hackney Empire: An Improbable Musical

Improbable Musical, photo by Marc Brenner

An improvised musical, which if I were to define it, is a ridiculously absurd-looking baby of a stand-up comedy, musical, and a rap battle, with some audience participation. 

Round 1: Comfort 

Your local pub will probably provide a decent choice of drinks, but beware of the seats you pick – you may get an extra splinter or a sticky stain from yesterday’s spilled cocktail. But it’s going to be nice and warm for sure! 

Improbable Musical is set in a grand building of the Hackney Empire. You know, red curtain, pretty lights, all that jazz. Seats are cushioned and pretty comfy for a theatre. There’s a bar with snacks and drinks – but beware there’s no interval, so make sure to stock up on them before the show starts. 

Round 2: Fun

Pub Quiz: It’s a classic for a reason. With a bunch of mates and a couple of drinks, you will be able to have the time of your life even if questions will be about Kim Kardashian’s hobbies or David Bowie’s extended family. You may score yourself a cash prize or a bottle of something nice if you win, so that’s a bonus!

An Improbable Musical: it’s literally a gamble! Topics, songs, and the whole show change with every performance, based on the keywords and phrases suggested by the audience. How to suggest something? Just shout your option loudly at the very beginning of the performance when actors ask for inspiration. Don’t be shy and you might experience your idea of a “cupboard under the stairs” turned into a crime/love story about a man captured and hidden for 2 years in a small space. The weirder and more awkward the suggestion, the better!

Round 3: Absurdity

Improbable Musical, photo by Marc Brenner

Pub Quiz: we all know that the more alcohol is present, the more fun and random answers you’re likely to hear. Beware though, as if you go too crazy, you may become that meme person whose ridiculous answer to a pub quiz question could featured on Reddit under /r/FacePalm.

Improbable Musical: Get ready for a parade of ridiculous songs, stories, and rhymes that causes bursts of laughter. Actors completely improvise, so you may end up with a song about a girl called Margery (what rhymes with Margery? I was a non-believer but the cast managed to freestyle and create a whole item just with rhymes to this!). 

Extra round: Accessibility

Pub Quiz : can’t get easier. Pop by your local and you’re there. You might not be able to take your whole family though as kids may not be the most welcome during evenings in the pub. 

Improbable Musical: kids are welcome – a 10-year-old boy sitting behind me was giggling the whole time (and kicking my seat too, but what to do). The only issue is getting to Hackney Empire – there’s an Overground or a bus going there, but no tube.

So who’s the winner? It’s your pick, but to be frank, I had an absolute blast watching the amazing creativity and cheesy puns at An Improbable Musical performance this week. The live band on the stage provided an array of music themes and the 2 puppeteers included some fun elements like water in a swimming pool or a fussy, fluffy cat in one of the scenes. 

If there’s a rainy day on the horizon and you look for ideas to spend your evening, keep the Improbable Musical in mind. The danger of it, however, is that for the rest of the night you may be singing an absurd song you’ve heard at the performance (like the one about Peter diving into a pool from 10 meters, such a catchy tune). 


Improbable Musical at Hackney Empire

Director: Lee Simpson
Musical Devisor and Director: Christopher Ash
Puppet Designer and Director: Aya Nakamura
Designer: E.M. Parry
Associate Director: Angela Clerkin
Lighting Designer: Colin Grenfell
Sound Designer: Oscar Thompson
Sound Designer: Will Thompson
Movement Director: Pauline Mayers


Niall Ashdown
Ruth Bratt
Josie Lawrence
Aya Nakamura
Lee Simpson
Clarke Joseph-Edwards

Flute: Max Gittings
Percussion: Joley Cragg
Cello: Juliet Colyer

Zuzanna Chmielewska

Digital Marketer by profession, published travel book author, avid theatre goer and an amateur Malaysia tour guide in my free time. Find me in one of London's theatres, travelling in Asia or cooking and photographing new recipes in my kitchen. I would try anything once (at least!). My theatre blog:



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