Notflix was a musical experience with a twist. Everything was improvised, including the original songs. Using inspiration from audience suggestions based on what they had seen recently on Netflix and related streaming sites, the company chose two options and got the audience to vote for what they wanted to see improvised and turned into a musical.
fun and joy from everyone involved
The day I saw this show, the audience choice was focusing on the 2020 version of Jane Austen's Emma. The Notflix team then asked the person who suggested Emma about the theme within this story and what scene was particularly memorable. Once that was established, the magic unfolded in front of our eyes and we couldn't believe this was improvised. The way it was performed was so slick and precise that it was almost as if they had been rehearsing it for months.
The team (who included people such as Claire Buckingham, Holly Mallett, Ailis Duff and Aisling Groves-McKowen) brought the stage to life, as they focused on the theme of not judging others, as well as the lead up to the socialite picnic. The characters of Emma, Harriet, Mr Knightley, his servant Martin, and gardeners Terry and Barry were charming, yet full of saucy innuendos as the modern day and Austen's period world fused together. It did not matter if the wrong time period was occasionally mentioned as this fiesty band of women pulled together and made the whole experience well rounded and thoroughly enjoyable to watch with much banter, and laughter. There were also visible corpsing moments, and a physicality of performance as they emulated corsets, whilst at other times creating beautiful moments that were genuinely moving. Each relationship depicted on stage reflected the clear bond these women had as a company and, because of this, some extremely strong performances emerged.
Several highlights showcasing this involved Ailis Duff playing Mr Knightley, a character who struggled with what society expected of him and his own feelings towards Martin. Duff clearly loved experimenting with anything that sent up how tall she was and made Knightley engaging, yet off-putting at the same time with his vanity and arrogance. Likewise Clare Buckingham's gardener role really showcased her strength in playing roles that were down to earth; she was not afraid to get her hands dirty. Plus the fact she was one of the main stars responsible for a lot of the innuendos, including the instant classic "will you hold my trowel Terry?". On the surface, this was a simple question, but her gruff character voice managed to make it sound incredibly saucy.
A special highlight has to go to Emma's plain looking friend Harriet who had her own song. This was in the style of Alexander Hamilton, the opening song from the musical Hamilton, only with the name and theme changed to Harriet. In terms of Notflix's songs, this was the one that stood out for its simplicity and rawness in emotion.
A huge highlight of the Fringe, Notflix changes films every time and is never the same. But what is sure to be a consistent factor is the fun and joy from everyone involved.