Monday, October 3

CSI: Crime Scene Improvisation – Underbelly, Bristo Square

CSI: Crime Scene Improvisation was the first improvised performance I have seen so far at this Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and I was not disappointed. It began as many improvisations do, with the performers asking the audience to provide certain details that form the bedrock of the show. In this case, we had to name the victim, their job, and the weapon with which they were murdered. It was like an exceptionally fun game of Cluedo.

I was already laughing as we named our victim Jervaiz Pickle, yes it was spelt like that. The unfortunate victim had been a Travelodge receptionist and was brutally murdered by limp hearts of Romaine lettuce. I must give credit to whoever thought of this genius weapon as it propelled much of the slapstick comedy throughout the show.

The details of the murder established; it allowed the cast to truly shine as they bounced from ridiculous scenario to ridiculous scenario. We had a cleaner who was deeply disappointed she hadn’t discovered the body, breaking her streak of 15 found in a row. An allegedly illiterate hotel manager who somehow knew the Wi-fi password but refused to share it. And a chef/waitress with a tendency for violence when her cheese and onion pies were criticized. I was astounded by the pace at which the cast would switch from story beat to story beat, rarely missing a step. On the occasion that something did go slightly wrong, it was often even funnier. A particular highlight being when the manager, superbly played by Lee Apsey, marched on to stage declaring his secret of illiteracy, only to realise there was no-one with him. Apsey didn’t miss a beat, crying out ‘I’m also alone!’. In fact, perhaps what was most enjoyable about the performance was how much fun the cast were having. It was delightful watching them try and hold in their laughter at each other’s jokes. The energy they exuded was electric.

The audience participation was also a highlight, with the questioning of the suspects really sticking in the memory. Fantastically, someone in the audience asked Danielle Downey’s character, the eventual murderer, why she had always wanted Jarvaiz’s previously unmentioned wooden leg. Moments like this is where the talent of the cast really shone as Downey launched into a tirade about how gorgeous the leg was and how envious she was of Jarvaiz because of it.

CSI: Crime Scene improvisation was an absolute blast. I can’t wait to go back for a whole new mystery. I already have a murder weapon in mind!

Playing until 28 August, click HERE for times and tickets.

Reviewer: Ben Pearson

Reviewed: 11th August 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★