With quite a weighty reputation you would expect great things from the Oxford Imps, so naturally I was excited as they leaped on stage to deliver a decent and energetic introduction. Unfortunately the rest of the show was just fifty minutes of awkward and bad improv with a little bit of dancing in between scenes.
In this show the Imps perform a set of short-form games based on audience suggestions. The problem is that the games weren’t ‘short’ at all. Each one dragged, making the show uncomfortable to watch. The first game lasted for over a quarter of the show. The players performed what can only be described as a cheesy improvised song that is probably used as a warm-up in children’s workshops. Each time I thought the first game was over they’d ask an audience member for another suggestion, making it linger on for even longer. If it were a football match, the pointless raving in between each scene could be defined as time wasting and some of the scenes were so long you would forget the original suggestion.
A few skits were slightly immature, with certain players resorting to fake punches to drain a little laughter from the crowd. Other parts were much better and I cracked a smile when the Imps played a ‘one-liners’ game as being ‘punny’ appears to be their strong-point. The show finale was a long form game in which the players invented a mini soap opera. I was hoping the team would pull back at the end but bad characterisation made it difficult to stay focused.
The Imps do deserve a little bit of leeway, as each show is made up completely on the spot and it’s difficult thing to do. With a team of non-professionals a show can be a complete flop one day and mind-blowingly amazing the next. For a first time viewer of improv this show could be deemed watchable, but you’ll probably find a higher quality show just around the corner that won’t hurt your wallet quite so much.