Great Yorkshire Fringe: Showstopper! The Improvised Musical

Tuesday 25th July, White Rose Rotunda

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m all about the improv lately. I also happen to harbour a secret love of musicals and frequently improvise my own in the kitchen, much to the delight of DanMan (he says it makes him want to scratch his own ears off but I know that’s just his way of saying ‘sing more, sweet darling, your voice is like a light in darkness, your talent unrivalled in the mortal realm’). So, when I see there’s an improvised musical a-happening at the Yorkshire Fringe, am I going to go? You betcha I am.

I’ll start with this: it was impressive. I don’t know how anyone could not be at least slightly awed by a cast of five (plus an incredible pianist) not only improvising an entire 70 minute plot based on one or two suggestions, but also a whole host of songs – there were maybe seven or eight – some of which were in the style of other suggested musicals, including full harmonies and lyrics. Oh and not forgetting the use of props, staging, scene changes, character relationships, sound and lighting. All whilst being actually funny. Which brings me on to my next point; it wasn’t just impressive, it was great.

The story ended up being about Charles Darwin’s expedition to the Galapagos Islands, from which the cast managed to extrapolate a love triangle and a cross-species war, amongst other sub-plots. The plot made sense (mostly!), the characters were well formed, each with their own quirks, and the jokes were clever and silly in equal measure.They also used props and minor costume changes to great effect, bringing alive a whole host of animals (have you ever seen a harlequin tortoise?) at the drop of a hat. Despite the simple staging, they really managed to create an atmosphere and distinct spaces that made scene changes feel clear.

The entire cast were fantastic, with amazing voices, musicality and acting/comedic talent. Ruth Bratt was my personal favourite; she was hilarious and had perfect timing all the way through the show, and I’m pretty sure she stepped in and saved the day a few times with some quick thinking. She also corpsed quite a lot which is just my favourite thing ever – it makes it feel like the actors are having fun! All the cast did a great job of this, to be fair, as it felt like they were enjoying themselves which made it even more enjoyable for us. They toed the line between silly and professional perfectly, and I loved it.

They’re playing the Edinburgh Fringe and have several dates all over the place after that, and I would absolutely recommend catching this show if you get a chance. It’s funny, it’s creative, it’s expertly put together and the cast are incredibly talented triple/quadruple/quintuple threats. Watch, be amazed, thank me later.


NB: I also heard one of the cast members mentioning after the show that they do a version for kids, which I think would be the funnest and lovliest thing in the world, so if you have kids, do that too!