Thursday, September 28

ShakeItUp: The Improvised Shakespeare Show – Gilded Balloon Teviot

There is nothing I like more than spending an hour watching an improvised show, and I always make sure that my Edinburgh Fringe Festival visits have at least one impro show on my list.  This time it’s the turn of ‘ShakeItUp,’ who create a show entirely from the suggestions given by the audience, then perform the show in the style of a Shakespeare play.  Now, I have to admit to being a regular visitor to impro shows performed by ‘The School of Night’, who set the bar very high in terms improvising Shakespeare, so I was keen to see whether this troupe (for the want of a better name), could surpass my high expectations. 

So today, the audience was offered the choice of a history, comedy or tragedy play, and comedy won by a close margin.  Next, the name the person you had your first kiss with – James was selected from a lady called Nommi, who met James at a driveway party.  Now where is the play going to be set – Amsterdam, and finally the name of the play – The Comedy of James of Amsterdam!

So here we go, the reins are handed over to the performers to create a masterpiece from those few suggestions (plus a few that the goader [in the guise of Rose Trustman], throws in).  What ensues is comedy gold!!!   I should firstly do a shout out to the players, today’s performers were – James Dart, Joe Prestwich, Abigail Clay, Edward Kaye, Rebecca Gibbs with Rose Trustman acting as musician/goader (that’s a Ken Campbell term, but let’s run with it). 

This tale is of love that blossomed between James and Nommi, and it’s a convoluted tale that had many twists and turns, but the comedy highlights for me were James Dart’s multiple characters, (Duke Orsino, Lord Clarence and a wet nurse) sometimes in scenes together, and the challenge of dancing together was a particularly enchanting ‘split-personality’ moment.  James’ (Edward Kaye) improvised poem, with the challenge of rhyming couplets with the first line in French; and by-George, he did it *impressive*!  The lost pen of state, the zombification of love, the phrase ‘scarred like a banana,’ James suckling on the wet nurses’ breast, and finally, the tragedy of pineapple on pizza!

That was a busy hour for the performers, but a rip-roaring time for the audience, and I can definitely say, that all of the above was performed in the style of Shakespeare.  I’m not entirely sure the lines were delivered in iambic pentameter, but I was too busy laughing to notice!  Just go along to the Gilded Balloon Teviot, armed with ideas, and see how these impro-masters can – ‘ShakeItUp’!

To see ShakeItUp perform, follow this link to book tickets here – – but you’ll have to be quick, as they are only in Edinburgh until the 13th August 2023.

Reviewer: Caroline Worswick

Reviewed: 6th August 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.