As a fan of improvised comedy, I was keen to go along to see The Descendants, who are a part of Hoopla Impro’s house team, who on this occasion are offering a long form improvised show, with suggestions being taken at the beginning only. This style of improvisation allows the performers to make the decisions as to the direction the story will take, but they use the initial suggestions given by the audience.
Tonight, the team asked for a place that the play should be, the weather, and a name of a character. The audience suggestions were a maternity ward, snow and Gill Jacobi, let’s see what The Descendants can make of that little lot!
Tina and Colin are having a baby, and Tina is already in labour in the maternity hospital being supported by Donovan, a work colleague who is mega boring. Tina is desperate for Colin (her husband) to arrive, but he has been caught in the snow with no transport and is using his two pins to get there. They move to a scene in a church where Gill and Milly Jacobi are having a conversation and we are introduced to Myles Jacobi, who has psychic powers and predicts the future from visions he sees in his dreams.
We meet such characters as Brenda who is retiring from the hospital after 54 years and is glad to be no longer dealing with ‘scummy stupid patients. Cheryl who annoys her work mate and continually asks her to go out for a drink with her. Cheryl really likes Donovan (you know, the boring one), and she thinks he is really interesting and intelligent, and after showing him around the staff room, she wants to take him to ‘room 104’, and yes, Myles correctly predicted this in one of his visions.
The joy of watching improv, is that you cannot read the synopsis beforehand to see if you will like the play, you just have to go along, take part in the suggestion process, and join in with the spirit of improvisation. The audience are a part of the show (a little less so with long-form improv), and this feeling of it being almost a joint venture, seems to increase the potential for enjoyment. The team made a good fist of it and the show was entertaining, with some very witty scenes. I have to say if I had the choice, I prefer short-form improv, with a goader asking the audience for more suggestions to help to keep the story moving, sometimes the story did stall a little. This is the tightrope the improv team walk however, as some ideas will give them more to work with than others.
The Descendants are clearly a talented group of improvisers who work well as a team. I would not hesitate to recommend going along to see them if you get the opportunity. Their show has finished now at the Camden Fringe Festival, but to see what they have going on in the future, follow this link to their Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/DescendantsImpro
Reviewer: Caroline Worswick
Reviewed: 25th August 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★