Five-a-Side Theatre

“Join our storytelling team as they use innovative improve [sic] techniques to craft a narrative from audience members’ true stories,” boasts the Five-a-Side flyer. Imagine the disappointment when, far from this promise, you are subjected to five students dressed in cheap Disney princess costumes, telling a story that is not only not improvised but is also mind-numbingly poor.

Five-a-Side is free, so you won’t waste your money, but you’ll want to claw back the time you spend watching it.

It seems Five-a-Side have a very loose interpretation of what improvisation is – traditionally, a long-form improvisation show would a) take several suggestions from the audience, b) work completely from scratch to use said suggestions, and c) maybe make the audience laugh. It’s not that Five-a-Side don’t achieve any of these things - they don’t even aim for them.

We’re introduced to the five Disney princesses - Pocahontas (or ‘Pokie’), Snow White, Rapunzel (of Tangled), Merida (of Brave) and Tiana (of The Princess and the Frog) – and they promise us a story, created uniquely for us. They promise to break down the boundaries of race, gender and class. It’s hard to tell who the piece was intended for – the four-year-old girl in the front row didn’t seem like the target audience for later sequences about drinking and partying, but the rest of the (adult) audience were bored witless.

The cast took one suggestion from the audience. “Give us an object that’s special to you!” Somebody, after a thick, uncomfortable silence, suggested a hat. The hat did feature in the story that followed, but in scripted sentences where it could have been replaced by literally any other object. The mess of the main performance could have been forgiven if it had been genuinely improvised, but for a scripted play, it had no redeeming features.

The princesses blunder from scene to disjointed scene, some which are assumedly badly sign-posted flashbacks. It’s hard to tell if any character work has gone into the performance - although the actress playing Rapunzel does maintain a bright, feminine tone of voice throughout, that’s basically as far as it goes.

Five-a-Side is free, so you won’t waste your money, but you’ll want to claw back the time you spend watching it.

Reviews by Caitlin Hobbs

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Since you’re here…

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You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
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Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
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Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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The Blurb

Tell us all about it... hear your story – all five sides of it! A different show each night, join our storytelling team as they use innovative improve techniques to craft a narrative from audience members’ true stories. Follow @5ASideTheatre for more information or to share your stories with us.

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