‘An Improbable Musical’ is an entertaining night of improvisation full of surprises, excitement and joy that are bound to leave you roaring with laughter. A full-scale musical created fully on the spot, a unique theatrical experience that guarantees an amusing, ridiculous plot like nothing you have ever seen before.
The show is co-produced by ‘Royal & Derngate, Northampton’ and ‘Improbable’ with support from ArtsCouncil England’s Ambition For Excellence Fund. It delivers a night of glorious live music, strange and improbable characters, uplifting songs, magical puppetry made from the unlikeliest of materials, and perhaps something darker and strange, that you wouldn’t normally expect from a usual show.
So… how was it? Let’s simply say – it definitely delivered!
The show begins with a chat between the cast and the audience as they take suggestions to create their musical masterpiece. On this particular Friday night, the suggested scene was set in a ‘herb garden‘, had to incorporate the sentence ‘‘the murder was horrible, yet the wind was whispering’ and include the word ‘Lackadaisical’. Without a second thought, the orchestra began to play and the cast dived in with a good strong first number, captivating the audience from the onset.
This production included coriander thieves turned into love affairs, dust cakes, heartbreak, exploding ducks, murderous tea parties, and a wide range of different caricatures.
Parry’s sets cleverly utilises a series of unusual staircases and windows to accommodate any possible scenario, spinning the sets, and focuses the action on different spaces and various levels to accommodate the storylines.
An array of objects were arranged at the back of the stage and these were used resourcefully to create props and puppets when needed – an umbrella is used as walking stick, paper plants create a herb garden, and puppetry depict a dead body. A duck was imaginatively created from cups ,saucers and a teapot and a frame acted as an Instagram post. The puppetry was something truly special and it was such a shame it hasn’t been used more often.
The orchestra crafted an assortment of tunes for the cast to work with. They were made into exciting solo numbers, heartfelt duets, and uplifting group numbers that were all hugely impressive (although sometimes a little repetitive), usually based on one particular line throughout. The addition of music to the production is what made it special and showcased the skills of the fabulous group.
Josie Lawrence and Ruth Bratt carried the show with their highly skilled improvisation leading with generous ideas and brimming with excitement and energy. Notably, a song that sent the audience howling as a child tells their friend ‘Nobody Loves You’. Niall Ashdown also stands out through his range of hilarious characters exploring different emotions.
Although this production is hugely entertaining, at times it was rather stilted and hesitant as the actors seemed reluctant to take on an idea and run with it (10 Downing Street, anyone?). Some parts appeared thrown together randomly with no link to the rest of the plot, which made it difficult to follow. It would have been great to include more audience interaction to shape the story.
However, coming up with a highly individual, riveting show, every night, on the spot- is no mean feat, with no preparation and challenging ideas, they mastered an impressive performance! Everything was tied together and neatly ended with a song with the moral ‘Pick your herbs in your own garden’ that left the audience roaring with laughter, with a catchy tune that was hysterical!
A novel quirky idea
‘An Improbable Musical’ delivers an exciting evening filled with surprises, laughter, adventure, entertainment, and magic. Definitely, an experience that has to be seen more than once to properly appreciate it.
An Improbable Musical
Running until 26th October 2022Read more: An Improbable Musical Review – Hackney Empire