Gary Tro and Tom Livingston have picked the perfect subject for their improv show. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a pop-culture behemoth with four places in the top-ten grossing movies of all time.
You’ll have a great time with the epic silliness of it all
The format is simple; the audience get to shout out the star of the movie, a supporting character and a word to inspire the plot. The action them moves to the writer’s room where the foursome ‘pitch’ the movie – a fun onstage way of letting the cast decide what will ensue. Tro and Livingston are joined by two guest performers, today we have Dan Starkey and Laura Lexx. As ever with improv shows, it’s safe to tell you the plots as you’ll get a different show each time.
As it’s a cinematic universe, we’re getting three movies in one hour. First up is Doctor Strange and the Wrinkle in Time which sees Tro’s high-cheekboned Master of the Mystic Arts visited by his granny played brilliantly by Starkey. A cup of tea accidentally served in the Cup of De-aging and some shenanigans with the Eye of Agamotto lead to Dr Strange never becoming a superhero and, instead having a career as a landscape gardener. Some confusion over the name of Dr Strange’s nemesis (Baron Mordo) leads to Strange having to battle The Muppets’ Gonzo and Laura Lexx’s Rizzo the Rat when Lexx – who is not so knowledgeable on Marvel minutia – leaps at the chance to move things towards a franchise with which she’s more comfortable.
Next we get Pocket Rocket where Rocket Raccoon accidentally ingests the Time Stone and finds himself in the DC Universe. Tro gives us an excellent pastiche on Christian Bale’s gravelly voiced Batman and Livingston perfectly plays the apathy of any actor who might find himself stuck with the role of Superman when Zach Snyder is directing. Starkey is an wonderfully grouchy Rocket baffled by his encounters with The Dark Knight and Lexx again decides to play it hilariously safe as Michael Caine (having been unable to remember the actual name of Batman’s butler). The Marvel nerds on stage seem very uncomfortable to have found themselves in the bleak DC movies so we quickly get back to the brightness of Marvel via an animal beauty pageant and another appearance from Rizzo the Rat.
Finally, it’s time for the climax. A crossover epic titled Avengers: Air Conditioner which has its plot decided by a fantastic throwaway line from Lexx wherein Michael Caine claims the whole situation of the previous adventure could be solved by getting on to the Death Star and “blowing the bloody doors off”. This time, Thor gets involved and Livingston portrays the God of thunder as a super-confident, unkillable murder-machine. By this point in the proceedings, Lexx has decided she’s safest standing in for set and props. Now that we seemed to have slipped in to the Star Wars universe, the villains of the piece are Darth Vader and The Emperor as any attempts by Tro and Livingston to guide the action back to Marvel are roundly derailed by a final appearance by Rizzo the Rat. Unfortunately, time constraints mean that the story has to end abruptly with everyone except Thor being killed in the explosion of the Death Star.
As well as all the crazy action, the cast are excellent with funny asides, fourth wall breaking, and using narration to move the story along quickly. Being able to declare “five minutes later” regularly gets them out of plot holes and helps keep the story charging along. Everyone is clearly having a great time and I laughed so hard at few of the antics on stage that I had to catch my breath. If you’re a fan of Marvel, you’ll be thrilled by this show. If you don’t know your Groot from your Drax, you’ll have a great time with the epic silliness of it all. Excelsior!