Improdyssey: A Gentle Quest for Something or Other

Sunday 11th August 2019 at the Etcetera Theatre, Camden.

⭐️⭐️⭐️

At every performance of Improdyssey, the audience dictate (to an extent) the action they see. Restrictions apply as the company specifies that the tale must be set in the medieval period with the healthy option of fantastical content – from there, the show sets sail to unknown territory.

The company is made up of six actors and a selection of four appear at each show – at this performance, the cast was made up of Brendan Way, Sean Toole, Guillaume Desqueyroux and Joe Colgan. The premise is that this band of men are set on a quest named by the audience – this performance was given the title The Quest for the Ring of Doom and involved an ageing priest who sets out to get the Ring of Doom in order to foresee how much life he has left in him. Various random insertions are included along the way and the cast clearly enjoy their time up there together which is always great to see – who doesn’t love to see actors making each other laugh with their off the cuff quips? 

Highlights at this performance included the use of audience members as a tag team for completing lines in a scene and the use of quotes given by the audience to offer random moments which sink or swim depending on how incongruous or fitting it is with the scene at hand. Toole was particularly great as the voice of God and Guillaume was out in front with his whacky takes on a very expressive cat and a very blood-soaked butcher heading for doom.

I have to hold my hands up here and say this style and approach was rather lost on me – for all their work up there, this performance of the Improdyssey inspired only a few bemused smiles from me. The best improv for me is fast and furious, full of energy and escalating action which teeters on genius or disaster – the approach of the Parentheticals is apparently extremely relaxed and in truth, rather meandering. It’s a capable cast with clear comic potential taking a muted wander through a forest of possibility with some nice moments cropping up here and there. There’s too much evident clutching at the next rung for my liking but there’s no denying that the audience I sat with were finding much of this show to their tastes.

I can certainly see the appeal of this show for those with a taste for the silly fun of improv within the realm of the Medieval era but for me, the selected era is distinctly limiting, the quest focus not particularly discernible at this particular show (though I accept that every show differs) and the pace not quite up to scratch. Put this one down to personal tastes – I’d give this particular performance two stars, but I’m letting the audience vouch for another as those around me were certainly getting their kicks and as they do say, every show is different!

The Parentheticals’ Improdyssey plays the Camden Fringe for the fourth time this year – they’re currently playing at the Etcetera Theatre until 12th August 2019 and you can find tickets here or on the door.

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