Notflix: Originals

Since their explosive debut a few years ago, Waiting For The Call Improv (WTFC) and their signature show, Notflix, have been tipped as rising stars. To say now that they are still rising stars is not to begrudge them the success they’ve had, but to suggest that the show is reaching ever-more-dizzying heights. If it isn’t already, Notflix is soon to be the hottest ticket in town, and it’s easy to see why: from a winning format, to vocal perfection, to sheer energy and stage presence, Notflix might very well be the best show you see at the Fringe this year, and the year after that, and hopefully forever.

If it isn’t already, Notflix is soon to be the hottest ticket in town

Taking film suggestions from the audience—which also offers a light warm-up laugh in reading out the accompanying synopsis (condensing any film into one or two sentences sounds invariably weird)—the WFTC team aim to transform the film of your choice into an entirely improvised musical. To the uninitiated, this might sound restrictive, with the cast being reliant on their cinema knowledge and prying open spaces in well-worn plots for impromptu musical numbers. In fact, the cast avoid getting mired in the detail, instead producing a musical that deploys the main characters and themes of the source material, while constructing a narrative that pays homage to the original without getting bogged down in every plot point. Not only is this useful for the cast, who shouldn’t all have to be Roger Ebert, but also for audience members who would be lost if the show adhered too closely to the film.

In this particular show, the chosen film was The Silence of the Lambs, which allowed the cast to adroitly exploit the murky space between creepiness and hilarity. A cabal of Hannibal Lecters was legitimately discomfiting, and yet certain lines were able to turn whole scenes on their head: “Wafer thin ham is the gateway drug to human flesh” being a highlight.

It almost goes without saying that the cast are incredible vocalists. Notflix is not without rivals in the improvised musical game, but having seen the major players I would argue that WTFC are the best singers. Prismatic vocals build into beautiful harmonies, and near-flawless subliminal communication among the cast allows for fierce choruses that brim with confidence and commitment. Emma Read was a particular standout in this show, showing off both her straight-out-of-Moana voice as well as her intuitive knowledge of song structure.

Not that WTFC settle for basic chord progressions and easy patterns: a particular highlight was a Hamilton-inspired song, Breast Man Ever, which, with its quick rhymes and force-of-nature pace, was full of risk and genuinely exciting. The live band hinting at Mendelssohn’s Wedding March in the opening, to coincide with the ‘Best Man’ pun, was a fun Easter egg and speaks to the ease with which the band and the cast perform alongside each other. Is it too late to mention that the song was about a henchman seeking to acquire as many human breasts as possible for his boss?

Set design and lighting are often the unsung heroes of these productions, and certainly merit a mention here for the deft transition to a bloody red during an especially heinous Hannibal Lecter speech, and then subtly bringing in pink during a ballad (also by the infamous cannibal), among other excellent moments. ‘NOTFLIX’ hangs above the stage in in enormous, red, glittery letters—but rather than being gaudy or precocious, it feels natural. Get ready: in the cultural consciousness, Notflix could end up sitting right alongside the streaming giant, and sooner than you think.

Reviews by James Haikney

Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

Spontaneous Potter

★★★★★
Underbelly, Bristo Square

Bumper Blyton

★★★
Gilded Balloon Teviot

Notflix: Originals

★★★★★
Gilded Balloon at Old Tolbooth Market

Harriet Dyer and Scott Gibson: That's Not a Lizard, That's My Grandmother

★★★★
Just the Tonic at The Charteris Centre

Sketch You Up!

★★

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

The "Spice Girls of improv" return for a fourth triumphant year in their five-star, sell-out, totally improvised musical comedy Notflix. Inspired by audience suggestions, the all-female cast improvise the musical version of your favourite films, creating movies with 100% more singing, 99% more women and a full live band. Notflix. Because everything is better as a musical! As heard on BBC Radio 5 Live ***** 'Roaringly funny and incredibly talented' (BroadwayBaby.com) ***** 'A little piece of theatrical genius' (NorthWestEnd.co.uk) ***** 'Flawless' (TheLiveReview.co.uk).

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