Lights! Camera! Improvise!

What do you get when you combine sci-fi with time travel with the Vatican City and the movie title “Bad Popes Gone Wild”? The answer – a hilarious improvised movie containing a blurry burlesque dance sequence , gap years to Thailand and an insane final plot twist that somehow actually seemed to make a lot of sense.

If you like movies, go and see this show. If you don’t like movies, go and see this show anyway and get the chance to have your ideal movie play out before your eyes. The way improv theatre works is that the host, here aptly named Oscar, asks the audience for certain snippets of information to form a bare-bones idea for a movie – in this case, genre, theme, setting and title. Then, the host takes a more passive role and watches the action play out in front of him, occasionally ‘pausing’ the action to make comments or steer it in a certain direction. This is obviously a technique used to allow the actors to frantically rack their brains for the next plot device, but ‘Oscar’ is engaging and full of energy, and has ideas of his own as to how the action should play out.

The plot itself revolved around three separate timelines, a premise which was maintained almost perfectly, which was highly impressive given the often complicated and confusing aspects to time travel. The story was engaging and side-splitting, and the audience (and possibly the actors too) were left wondering how exactly it was going to end. Highlights included the ‘Director’s Cut’ snippets of the Writer’s Room, where a lazy production team proceeded to make poor, snap decisions, at which point the director would shout: “Perfect, let’s go to the pub!”; a play on how certain characters are always overlooked and are restricted to merely repeated or confirming a previous character’s dialogue; and the final plot twist which involved the time travelling Popes killing Judas, and therefore causing Jesus’ betrayal to never happen, and Jesus was thus never crucified – and as a result, the Catholic faith crumbled, a fact that was eerily predicted by a prophetic cardinal earlier in the story.

The cast were remarkable in their enacting of the story and managed to hold together a premise that could have been very easy to get very wrong. The result was a hysterical performance that was enjoyed by every last spectator. Go see this show – you won’t regret it.

Performances

The Blurb

The award-winning improvised movie, live on stage. You choose the genre, location, title - we improvise the film. Sell-out 2009-2011. ***** (Edinburgh Reporter). ***** (BroadwayBaby.com). ***** (BroadwayWorld.com). ***** (TheNewCurrent.com). **** (List). **** (ThreeWeeks).