The Improverts

Bursting onstage in a blaze of colour, noise and applause at half past midnight in Bedlam, the Improverts return once more to the Fringe. For a show that has been at the Fringe in one guise or another for twenty three previous years, it was amusing to note immediately that none of the five strong male cast appeared old enough to have been born for their show’s inception.

However, to reference this show’s longevity is not to imply it is in any way outdated: indeed, with this youthful troupe came a fearsome exuberance in their approach, with games and gags coming thick and fast. The technical team should be commended for keeping up: adding words or genres suggested by the audience to the slide show mere seconds after their first elicitation and similarly finding themed music for the scenes was a nice touch that suggested someone was a dab hand at Youtube searching.

Rather than the long form ‘Harold’ (or variant) that most Fringe improv troupes utilise for their performances, the Improverts instead elect to play a variety of short form games. It’s a format suited to the high-octane environment that the technical team created and to the drunken crowd and it is also one which is expertly well rehearsed, with players trading in and out seamlessly between games and taking turns introducing games to rush proceedings along.

However, this simplicity also proves to be the show’s main flaw: at times, it smacks of a lack of ambition, especially with the device of slapping the stage to cue audience applause, a get-out whose response sometimes feels overdone compared with what came before it. Significant errors such as missing letters in the (now erroneously named) Alphabet Game, flagrant corpsing and accents going so awry they merited overt fourth wall breaking references to the audience are laughed off, as they should be, but perhaps too regularly.

There is no doubt that the Improverts are a group of very, very funny young men (whilst there appear to be some girls in the troupe, this night’s cast were all male and indeed could very conceivably have been siblings for their appearance). However, what was absent was any moments of cumulative brilliance, those moments when the stars align and improv comedy seems its most spectacular. Perhaps this was denied them by their shorter formats and their continual rotation of groups and certainly it didn’t spoil what was undeniably an extremely proficient and amusing show, but after closing on a predictably riotous game of Freeze Tag, it did leave one with a sense that these boys might have more to show than what this evening’s entertainment offered.

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Performances

The Blurb

Always different, always funny. Edinburgh’s resident improvised comedy troupe is back for their 24th Fringe. The Improverts promise another year of lightning-fast wit, high energy performances and consistently hilarious shows, based entirely on audience suggestions. ‘Breathtakingly good’ (Scotsman).

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