After a quick introduction to the performers, a few improvisational examples, such as a Lonely Hearts Ad from a toilet and a first date at the Battle of Waterloo, we were introduced to the gang behind
The improvisation was slick and well-executed and brought laughter through genuine comedy
One of the wonderful things about improv is that the suggestions from the audience can send the piece down any direction, and it is the fun that the performers have with those suggestions that form a truly entertaining performance. But with Improvabunga there is a noticeable lack of suggestions from the audience. Rather than playing a number of improvisational games, the format was focused on one longer piece, which didn’t lend itself to the integration of many suggestions. What little influence the audience did have were a couple of proposals that set the scene (a psychological thriller set in Lidl) and four buzzers that signalled a change in a moment, such as turning a key word into a song or an Oscar winning moment. However this power could only be used once.
But this is purely a criticism of the format and not of the performers themselves. Though there was a little drop in confidence when it came to hosting, this time by Will Jackson, once they had dived into their work, their personalities, wit and charisma were brought to life. Characterisations, even when multi-rolling, were sustained, scenes flowed seamlessly and there was never a point where the momentum was lost. The improvisation was slick and well-executed and brought laughter through genuine comedy rather than the hilarity of mistakes being made on stage, and for that they need to be commended.
What really stood out with this particular troupe though, was their lighting operator and their live pianist, who, on the fly, provided dramatic lighting and mood-setting sound to further bring this wonderfully bizarre scenario to life. If it’s anything that makes this troupe stand out, it’s this.
Improvabunga remains an entertaining hour of hilarity for an afternoon show but it’s a little more clean-cut than other improv troupes you’ll see. Without the endless stream of audience suggestions, the performers did start to feel too safe, and possibly needed to challenge each other a bit more to push their improvisation even further.