Noise Next Door are supremely proficient improvisers, and know how to create an evening show which will please a rowdy audience. For those audience members with a large beer in their hands, this show was a winner. However, some of the boisterous heart you want in an improvised show has been lost in the slickness.
If you only see one improvised show, you can't do much better than the Noise Next Door.
Noise piece audience suggestions into their series of songs, sketches, and games. They start with a more traditional song on the theme of ‘We're Not Nice’, before moving on to games involving audience participation. These work the best: a game involving an audience member choosing sound effects for a scene works remarkably well, and the Noise get lucky with a naturally obliging audience member who plays the guitar to accompany them in their other sketches.
The Noise have a couple of ideas which have a slightly risqué element, appeasing the late-night crowd: filling in a Google search, we end up with a song on ‘How do you get Thrush?’; in another, a performer exits the stage and live streams an interview with people drinking in the courtyard outside. A highlight involved using an audience member’s phone to provide a script for one performer, and these delighted for their mix of bizarre and heartfelt: ‘Can't wait to see you later, I've picked up some edible weed.’
Everything the Noise did was very well-done. The performers are clearly so experienced that almost any suggestion from the audience provokes a polished gag on the subject: Sex with a horse? It's a stable relationship. Yeast infection? It's like Marmite, you either love it or you hate it. In fact, many of these were the exact same jokes that I had heard in their show a few days previously. However, this did not impact the vast majority of the audience, who revelled in the quick pace of the show, and the snap reactions to prompts.
However, 10 feels distinctly commercial; it is improvised comedy at its most efficient, not its most joyful. The slightly uncomfortable neatness is there right from the beginning of the show. Four larger than life pictures of the performers stand at the back of the stage, looking out at us with bright, open mouthed smiles on clean, white backgrounds. A screen shows a trailer video of their 10 year career together, tracking the change from five to four performers, and going from keen students to television performances and relative fame. It is this television-friendly, strangely too-professional tone which pervades evening.
If you only see one improvised show, you can't do much better than the Noise Next Door. Save it for another year to see them again, though.