The Oxford Imps: Hyperdrive

The Oxford Imps’ technologically-heavy Fringe show, Hyperdrive, perform a mixture of long and short form improvisation, using technology as stimulus. However, instead of being particularly cutting edge, this diluted and convoluted an already weak show, with an incredibly gimmicky quality.

A disjointed and underwhelming performance

The show starts, rather unimpressively, with one member getting a bunch of youtube pages up. Throughout the course of the show, they will make a weak joke about drones, Facetime a strange for a mediocre reaction, improvising a song in their honour, and forming a ‘binary orchestra’. Audience are supposed to text in feedback and answers to silly questions on a slow and glitchy website at the beginning of the show, only for them not to be used. They then facebook stalk members of the audience, in order to gain material for a longer form improvisation at the end, which felt disjointed and just not particularly funny. Technological problems abound: the youtube screen of the music played is inexplicably left up, posing a visual distraction to improvised scenes in addition to projecting amateurishly onto the performers; the website doesn’t work, and a bad connection means that the FaceTime gag falls pretty flat; minutes are lost getting someone to log onto Facebook; the show starts late and finishes late. Despite its incredible prominence, none of the technological gimmickry is particularly funny, but instead just feels like a way of filling time to extend the show to an hour.

The improv itself is also fairly underwhelming. Some of the short form games, such as the attempt to define the mispronounced ‘Réseau des Emetteurs Français’ starts rather comically, as does the improvising responses to existing text conversations. They also do a good job rousing the crowd and creating a good energy in the room, and the variety of long and short form was fun and dynamic. However, the quality of the actual improvisation was mediocre: there was an overwhelming sense of them trying too hard to get laughs, which inhibited their ability to listen and communicate with each other. On multiple occasions, they would bring in a new idea before the existing one had been developed, or would fail to listen to emerging ideas from other members, leading to a disjointed and underwhelming performance. The main recurring jokes were overused, considering they weren’t particularly strong in the first place.

Hyperdrive, which on paper may have seemed like modern and cutting edge, in reality was something of a flop. Many of the improvisers showed real promise, but the inability to work as a unit and reluctance to take risks meant that it was a below average show from what would be expected from one of Oxford University’s premier comedy groups.

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Improv meets technology in this show from Oxford's legendary improvisers! Hyperdrive is jam-packed with special tech features that combine to create a one of a kind, unforgettable hour of comedy made up entirely on the spot. Scenes, characters, and stories come to life based on an audience volunteer's Facebook. We surprise someone somewhere in the world with a serenade over FaceTime, power up a state of the art remote-controlled drone, and more! Bring a phone/tablet for special features. Suitable for tech geeks and computer illiterate alike. 'Dynamic and talented' ***** (Oxford Mail). 'Devastatingly funny' ***** (EdFringeReview.com).