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.