Pleasance at EICC – The Pentland Theatre
I am delighted to be writing my first Edinburgh Fringe review (on my first visit to the Festival) for such a strong show. Theatre company Mischief entertained my chin off and left me wanting more.
Our ringmaster for the evening of amusement was Jonathan Sayer (Mischief Company Director) who introduced us to a world of top-class improvised theatre. Growing up I can remember watching BBC2’s Fast and Loose, adoring the random nature of proceedings, but I’ve never seen any professional live improv theatre before, so this was the perfect immersion.
As an audience, we are able to choose the genre, locations and title for the film. I had the pleasure of watching the performers create Cooking Up Trouble. Musical improviser Oliver Izod’s eyes lit up at the period drama choice, as he reached for the violin. Izod and Ed Zanders‘ constantly evolving piece of music accompanied the performance, meaning there was never a feeling of emptiness in the large auditorium. All the performers were honed in gauging the atmosphere and crafting cadence.
This improv piece had the spin of viewing the action like a film. Sayer used a TV remote to pause and analyse the absurdity of Josh Elliott and Dave Hearn’s brotherly ball-washing, and to fast-forward through the gruesome consumption of corpses by the gibbon Henry Lewis. We could even access the director’s cuts, extrapolating the most out of every little bit that arose. This included 30 seconds of Harry Kershaw crying whilst being unaware of doing so: a feat.
The Pentland Theatre at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre was a great fit for the show, with an audience large enough that any of the weirdest cackles felt accommodated. Minimal props and costumes meant that the actors took centre stage, and the framing device of a film within a play was subtly navigated by David Howe’s lighting design.
Improviser Charlie Russell even pulled the piece full circle, with the title in her closing line. Always professional, it was lovely to see the cast enjoying the performance itself with a smirk or giggle from the sidelines.
Despite a near-death experience, resurrection and somehow Sue Harrison forcing a happy ending whilst avoiding marriage – all within the last 10 minutes – this piece pulled character arcs out of the bag. Mischief Movie Night is an essential part of Edinburgh Fringe viewing.
Created, devised and produced by: Mischief Theatre
Mischief Movie Night plays at EdFringe 2022 unti 28 August. Further information and bookings here.