Sean Hughes's Blank Book

Improvised comedy is always a high stakes game. Unscripted shows walk a narrow path, attempting to circumnavigate an abyss of complete disaster and reach the coveted realms of spontaneous hilarity. This is a process that comes with serious risk, and in the case of Sean Hughes’ Blank Book, the show unfortunately didn’t just stumble into the abyss, it fell in headfirst.

That’s the thing with improv, this might just have been one bad show in a run of good ones

The concept of the show is to gather a group of comedians together and play the classic ‘story-round-the-circle’ game we’ve all attempted at least once at school. Sean Hughes, Carl Donnelly, Hannah Norris and Joe Rowntree improvised material around a pre-written opening, with the aim of reaching a pre-written ending that has been kept from them but revealed to the audience. They must also incorporate four audience suggestions, all the while having no idea where the story is heading, and with only Hughes holding all the cards and attempting to steer the narrative.

After a very slow start it was clear that the performers were struggling to claw back the room. Rather than being liberated by the lack of script, the material felt very constrained, constantly trying to reach a convoluted end point and consequently becoming increasingly unengaging. It wasn’t devoid of anything positive – the performers were all clearly very talented and made brave attempts to try and turn the show around. Their perseverance was commendable, and it was a shame to see them struggle with a good concept, but ultimately a static format and an increasingly unenthusiastic audience which gradually shrank over the course of the hour.

All in all, today’s performance was disappointingly flat – I say today’s because, that’s the thing with improv, this might just have been one bad show in a run of good ones. However, that being said, the biggest problem here seems to be the form that the show has taken and I can’t see that being changed before the end of its run. 

Reviews by Holly Mackinlay

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Sean Hughes's Blank Book




The Blurb

Blank Book curator Sean Hughes and his core team of highly talented comedians: Carl Donnelly, Hannah Norris and Joe Rowntree make up a story live on stage, with the help of an occasional very special guest. The story will have a written beginning and the audience will be told the end, with the comics having no clue in what direction they are heading. Sean will try his very best and attempt to steer the narrative to it's predetermined ending, whether the comics get to that point is another story, in between anything could happen!