“The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral; scene individable, or poem unlimited.”
Polonius (Counsellor to King Claudius in Hamlet) would likely be itching to be involved in Impromptu Shakespeare if he was around now. This talented troupe of improvisers take random words from the audience – acrobat, gaolers, window, rift – and weave a complex, chaotic and bonkers tale of love, castles, self-loathing, lobsters and twirling. As it’s shaped by audience intervention, every performance is different, the cast of five (from a company of thirteen) taking on a variety of roles, whatever is required to create the Shakespeare-esque tale. Producing a Shakespeare play, any play, from thin air is a tough call and here it’s a marvel to behold. Of course there’s 17th Century cross-dressing with women playing men and men playing the love interest of the Duke as he pursues the woman he’s only seen in a painting.
The group’s love of the Bard is clear. They couldn’t do this level of crazy, smart improv, without knowing their source material and their muse. It’s also a joy to see a group work together, bantering and interrupting each other as they craft iambic pentameter, often seemingly channelled from the playwright himself.
There’s no set or props. Costumes are from the dressing-up box in the loft (and frequently fall off due to dodgy elastic), but it all just adds to the fun. This is a show full of heart and a great way to introduce the Shakespeare-averse to the Bard.
Impromptu Shakespeare is touring the UK on various dates until 11th November including a residency at Edinburgh Fringe. More information and tickets from: https://www.impromptushakespeare.com/
Reviewer: Carole Gordon
Reviewed: 17th June 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★