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Crime Scene Improvisation, Leicester Square Theatre – Review

Pros: Inexpensively priced tickets and a good option for an informal outing with friends.

Cons: On this occasion, the venue. However, the work does tour to others.

Pros: Inexpensively priced tickets and a good option for an informal outing with friends. Cons: On this occasion, the venue. However, the work does tour to others. Following successful stints at both Camden and Brighton Fringe Festivals, The Chandeliers returned to Leicester Square Theatre at the weekend to perform their off-the-cuff who dunnit Crime Scene Improvisation. With no two performances the same, an ensemble of six work together to solve a unique murder mystery created using contributions from the audience. Nobody in the audience or the ensemble knows who the murderer is until the end, when the players must bring…

Summary

Good

Good

An affordable evening of light-hearted entertainment that caters to a specific market

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Following successful stints at both Camden and Brighton Fringe Festivals, The Chandeliers returned to Leicester Square Theatre at the weekend to perform their off-the-cuff who dunnit Crime Scene Improvisation.

With no two performances the same, an ensemble of six work together to solve a unique murder mystery created using contributions from the audience. Nobody in the audience or the ensemble knows who the murderer is until the end, when the players must bring about a conclusion. For the performance I watched, the audience helped to solve the murder of Martin, a wrestler who was murdered using a corkscrew!

As someone who has taught improvisation for more years than I care to mention, I know too well how challenging it can be (and how easily it can fall apart without the full investment and logical thinking of every performer). I was particularly impressed by the structure of the work and how well the actors and audience were guided through it by the character of the Detective, who superbly managed to glue all of the individual episodes and events together.

For the most part, the group worked with bounds of imagination and spontaneity; two essential ingredients needed for improvised work. There were some amusing moments and ridiculous conversations, with most performers making good contributions to the story and responding well to the ideas offered by each other. However, there were awkward moments too, when the work jarred and felt a little laboured. Also, at times, the work felt a little indulgent, with some members of the ensemble visibly amused by each other – a pet peeve of mine.

The studio setting for the improvisation felt like a cattle truck, with as many people as possible crammed in. This is not something that usually bothers me – I am a fan of intimate spaces – but where I was sat, on a stool against the back wall, I could not move properly from side to side or rest my coat anywhere which made for a very uncomfortable 60 minutes (and had me willing the show to finish). I was also rather bemused by an usher who, before the show began, implied I might be attempting to pass my ticket to a friend who arrived late, to get him in (I found this quite offensive).  In fact, the Leicester Square Theatre was underwhelming in every aspect, including the bar area where there was no seating; I had to stand and drink my overpriced poison from a plastic wine glass, while I was waiting for the show to start.

Despite my comments, the Chandeliers provide a good show for fans of improvisation, but nothing ground-breaking (to be fair, I do not think they are trying to be) and with varying levels of competence. Crime Scene Improvisation, for me, was a cheap evening of light entertainment, catering for a very particular market. As for the Leicester Square, it would take something special to entice me back.

Production Company: The Chandeliers
Booking Link: https://space.org.uk/event/consequences-the-book/
Booking Until: 10 June 2016

About Darren Luke Mawdsley

Darren Luke Mawdsley
Darren studied theatre at university and - following a decade of feeding thousands of people their dinner - today he directs and is also a lecturer in Drama and Theatre Arts. He is an experienced facilitator, actor, director and artistic director. He regularly writes for industry publications, alongside working freelance as an examiner in performing arts and as a coach to actors of all ages. He started performing at a young age, but these days can’t imagine anything worse than being an actor: “Those poor bastards are treated like crap. What absolute admiration I have for them.” A bit of a hussy, he’ll watch anything: “Except bad improvisation… that I can’t do.”