Back for another year of improvised madness are Mischief Theatre, the improvised movie and Oscar - the man with the biggest collection of DVDs in the known Universe. After a brief outline of how the show works we're off on an hour-long adventure entirely made up on the spot. Tonight we chose to watch Kicking Broads, the classic martial arts film set on the Norfolk Broads. This epic tale of a young boy's journey to find his father is interspersed with inspiring musical numbers, maniacal cackling and flashbacks all completely improvised and wonderfully coherent with one another.
The concept probably wouldn't work at all were it not for Oscar, the owner of this huge DVD library, who sits just off-stage, remote in hand, talking us through the key points of the film. As it turns out, he's talking the actors through the film as well, and having one member of the troupe sit aside and sketch out the developing plot gives Mischief Theatre the edge when it comes to improvised comedy. From here the actors are challenged to push the scene further, to rewind and repeat particularly painful parts, and to add in explanatory scenes from the director's cut. Even when a line is fluffed or a character doesn't quite work, we have the benefit of Oscar's incredulous commentary on these tiny slip-ups, reinforcing the illusion that this is just how the film goes.
And what a film - a tale of love, loss and lacklustre fight scenes in which the world's strongest woman and the world's strongest man are finally reunited through their son's quest, old grudges are forgiven and new friends made. One stand-out moment directly addressed the film's title- Kicking Broads, which at first sounded a little misogynistic to much of the audience. But in the final fight scene, in which the world's strongest woman pulverises the man who tried to kill her son, one quick-thinking cast member (in character as a talking golden barge) exclaimed “Wow! That is one Kicking Broad!”.
Though for many improvised comedy troupes you'll hear that the quality of the show depends on the audience's suggestions, for Mischief Theatre this is not the case. Recipients of one of Broadway Baby's Bobby Awards last year, this is a company who excel at everything they produce. Every cast member holds their own and their experience both of the Fringe and of group performance is evident in everything they do.