This Is Soap

This is Soap takes improv comedy to a new level - forget sketch shows, musicals or short-form games... no, This is Soap gives you a soap opera, a whole episode in an hour. Taken from audience suggestions, a soap opera forms before your very eyes, something of a mish-mash between Coronation Street and Eastenders. The result, the afternoon I got to witness this, was Amish Girls Gone Wild.

As a group the Soap bunch work exceedingly well together, taking extreme care not to step on each other’s toes, but not without a fair bit of blocking each other’s progress for comedic effect. A particularly hilarious moment was the insistence that another member of the group should sing a song at the end of the show, leading to a rapturous finale that provided one of the funnier moments of the hour.

From a comedic standpoint this isn’t the funniest show you’ll find at the Fringe, but it is might be the only improvised soap opera you’ll ever find and that in itself deserves some credit. As a concept, they get the style down perfectly. It really does feel like a badly-written 90s soap, full of grating accents and poor archetypes of characters - everything you could ever want. They also succeed in avoiding smut - the technique resorted to by an awful lot of improv troupes to catch quick laughs. It isn’t possible for a show at 1pm and by not doing so they fit themselves perfectly into a family category, suitable for all. Their funnier moments come in ‘Little Soap’, the short-form improvised games that come in as ad breaks between scenes, breaking up the action before it gets tiresome.

What this lacks is an injection of comedy that would probably come from a more extreme take on the genre. A little more in the way of screaming arguments, impossibly ridiculous death sequences and, of course, characters leaving in taxis might make this a parody on all things Walford, but it actually comes closer to falling somewhere between a BBC sitcom and The Archers.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
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Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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The Blurb

We'll fantasise, dramatise and improvise your very own soap opera. Olympic storylines inspired by your suggestions will unfold before your eyes. Different every day. Who needs TV? This is live. This is improvised. This Is Soap. www.ctheatre.com.

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