Remember that bit in Silence of the Lambs when Bob the prison guard finally faces up to his feelings for co-worker Janine? Me neither, but this isn’t a film on Netflix: it’s an improvised musical courtesy of Notflix. The troupe takes an audience suggestion for a film they’d love to see transformed into a musical, then set off with firecracker energy on producing a loose adaptation.
Fans of straight-laced adaptations, this won’t be for you. Then again, it’s your loss
Tonight’s troupe are a five-strong ensemble, confident although uncertain when it comes to the earlier scenes. Having all the cast in plain view can reveal how nerve-wracking the improv experience can be for its performers, and here the added visibility it proves a double-edged sword. Whilst it’s great to see “extras” emerge with ease to add some visual dynamism to an otherwise static sequence, the brief panic is just as visible to the audience when performers aren’t sure who should take to the stage next.
Notflix shake off their nerves as the show progresses, particularly when it comes to the musical numbers. The cast more than make up for repeating rhymes with technical flair. From layered vocals to harmonies to a quick rap break, it’s clear here’s where the performers really shine. Having live musicians on stage helps to give the show’s set-up a glimmer of old-school showbiz too: a simple touch but effective in building anticipation for a really high punchline rate.
True, the plot of the suggested film suffers – this is of course will differ show by show (it’s improv!) but for fans of straight-laced adaptations, this won’t be for you. Then again, it’s your loss: you’d miss out on a new range of memorable characters (Emma Read’s would-be tailor is a show-stealer and “a professional”). Don’t get uppity about the original material and you’ll have a raucous time with this irreverent bunch.