The Cambridge Impronauts: A Series of Improvable Events

The Cambridge impronauts return to the fringe festival with a new show that lovingly tributes Lemony Snicket's famous A Series of Unfortunate Events in a wonderfully absurd if at times uneven hour of improvised skullduggery.

The Cambridge impronauts return to the fringe festival with a new show that lovingly tributes Lemony Snicket's famous A Series of Unfortunate Events in a wonderfully absurd if at times uneven hour of improvised skullduggery. As we enter the Balcony room of the Gilded Balloon we are invited by our M.C., one Snemony Licket to prepare ourselves for an hour of pain, suffering and melancholy as we obs

As we enter the Balcony room of the Gilded Balloon we are invited by our M.C. – one Snemony Licket – to prepare ourselves for an hour of pain, suffering and melancholy as we observe the sad story of the Naudelaire children – orphans bouncing from tragic foster home to tragic foster home as they attempt to outrun the evil Count Wolaf.

It is the show's loving send up of the A Series of Unfortunate Events novels that is its best quality. The team have completely nailed the gloomy and at times gothic ethos of the books that made them so memorable. The M.C. in particular has a wonderfully pessimistic charm that wins the audience over. Bemoaning the idiocy of the absurd antics taking place behind him, and bringing a pitch perfect deadpan wit to bear in his attempts to logically explain the confusing improvised plot occuring that had everyone in stitches.

Speaking of the improv, despite some hysterical high points it was a bit of mixed bag. From scene to scene the performers are generally able to hold themselves well, bringing a level of spontaneity and charm that lead to some well crafted jokes and gags.

Unfortunately there was an unevenness of skill on display, and some of the performers were clearly much more comfortable in off the cuff improvisations and spontaneous wit than others. This lead to a slight over-reliance on the old improv trope of pointing out the flaws in the improvised storyline, which, when used sparingly can be a wonderful joke, but here became a standard and predictable gag used in almost every scene. The group also struggled towards the end of the show to tie together the disparate narrative threads and led to several moments were the performers were clearly completely unsure of what to do, which lead to a few awkward pauses that damaged the energy that the group had managed to cultivated.

These bumps weren’t enough to completely derail the otherwise well done improvisation, but did hamper the overall quality of the production. In the end the Impronauts have crafted an enjoyable send up to the beloved book series that fans and anyone else interested would do well to check out at this year's festival.

Reviews by Joseph McAulay

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★★★★
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

If you are reading this then I implore you to stop now and read no further. For if you are in chipper mood, or even just mildly content, I fear there would be nothing more dampening to your happy life than to see this show. Our story follows a group of innocent children who have just lost their parents in a terrible accident. Our improvisers will make up very funny drama on the spot from audience suggestions that tells of their encounters with quirky guardians, secret organisations, hidden conspiracies and dastardly villains.