Jack Left Town: The Improvised Rock Documentary

An improvised rock documentary is a tall order, and Jack Left Town sets out with boundless enthusiasm, a strong absurdity curve and sick air guitar to deliver, even if some areas are a little over thought.

Chazz Redhead is the standout performer, delivering a vast array of appearances to keep the storyline peppy and engaging

Following the style of a long form Harold structure, the show’s opening monologue is presented in the style of a band interview, intertwining vox pops effortlessly. It’s an original touch which immerses the show in its premise and sets the Jack Left Town team apart from other long form troupes.

For all the carefully considered structural signposts, there is an instance which questions whether these methods could limit the freedom of improvisation. The show’s midpoint sees a producers’ meeting address the show’s main plot points, which whilst an interesting sequence feels equally like an opportunity to take a breath from the Harold itself. Weighing in on the opening monologue prompts serves as a double-edged sword: it’s a cheeky wink past the fourth wall to check that everyone’s been paying attention, but turns a spotlight on whatever the troupe has forgotten. Today’s was a highly entertaining show, but on a quieter night with less in the way of prompts, the sequence could play to the detriment of the troupe.

As a group, each performer brings a different dynamic, which results in a vibrant and diverse bunch of characters. Chazz Redhead is the standout performer, delivering a vast array of appearances to keep the storyline peppy and engaging. He even aces a turn as a mafiosa fridge freezer in a sequence which shows the group aren’t afraid to take on bizarre scenes. There are a few instances of blocking and mixed continuity, but the second set of interview monologues helps to trim up any inconsistencies. And at 45 minutes, the pacing feels smooth with some especially slick moments of mime.

Jack Left Town is definitely worth seeing live, even if I’m not going to buy the album.

Reviews by Louise Jones

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

No instruments. No singing. No rehearsals. Jack Left Town is the greatest band in the world. The only hitch is it never existed. Inspired by improvised interviews with the band members, we see the band’s history and adventures unfold along with stories about how they have influenced the world they inhabit. No two shows (or bands) are the same! JLT have performed their improvised rock documentary (in the spirit of Spinal Tap) throughout London in 2016, including a residency at the Rosemary Branch Theatre.

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