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The actors and musicians seemed to be enjoying themselves far more than any audience member.
The whole show felt like a theatre group rehearsing an underdeveloped script in their New York studio, which is perhaps where it should have stayed. Although the group dynamic has the potential to create an interesting web of interrelated improvised moments, instead the performance led to a series of fumbles that started with an opening rap of which the rhymes were both unimaginative and inter-mingled with one another, reducing any potential comic impact to mere incomprehensibility. The Fringe is home to improvisation groups with more spontaneity, structure and fluidity. The Improv All Star Explosion lacked all of these qualities and the audience response showed it.
I was left wondering whether these actors even really wanted to be here. Even with a ‘surprise guest’ who was such a surprise that I failed to remember his name, it felt as if the performers were counting down the clock - as was I - reinforced by the iPad positioned on top of the lighting desk that had a rather distracting countdown of the proceedings.
Ironically one of the middle, non-musical, sketches revolved around the guest ‘star’s’ experience in Amsterdam of being accused of pre-prepared improvisation. This could have easily applied to the remainder of this performance. Although the final musical number slightly rescued the situation, it was as a result of what can only be described as the interrogation of an unlucky audience member. The resulting sketch was based on her life but was shorter than the interview itself, using no more than three pieces of information. Oh well, at least the band was finally called to action after having been sat in the corner staring at their shoes for the previous 55 minutes, laughing at the group’s jokes.
At no point did I feel particularly comfortable with this performance. The actors and musicians seemed to be enjoying themselves far more than any audience member. Comedy and musical improvisation obviously work at well at the Fringe generally, but these guys really missed the mark leaving their audience feeling alienated.