Poster Design: Colin Rothwell

As its name suggests, Much Improv About Nothing is an improvised Shakespearian performance. The amusing premise is that every Shakespeare play was created on the spot with audience suggestions. Will Shakespeare was merely the old poor scribe that had to jot it all down. The Impronaunts transport us back to England in 1600… or so, to re-create this event.

Shakespeare is famed for his comedies, tragedies, histories and romances. The audience are asked to vote on which genre they would like. The beauty of the Impronaunts is that every show is made up on the spot and thus no two shows are alike. Therefore, there are no spoilers in saying that opening night was a Tragedy called Tom: The Prince and the Poisoner. Thanks to the audience Tom suffered with constipation and pedantry; the former was revisited and made for great comedy throughout the show. However, his pedantry became forgotten and rather disappeared from the narrative.

“Great comedy throughout the show”

The notion of audience participation can be enough to put off some theatre-goers. It can embarrass or intimate those who prefer to watch rather than be centre stage. However, the Impronaunts offer a welcome alternative. There is no danger in sitting in the front row at this show – participation is voluntary and anonymous. Before the show starts the audience are encouraged to write down objects on pieces of paper. These are placed on stage and throughout the show the characters select one at random and they must include the object in their speech. It is incredibly satisfying to hear the audience laugh as your object is read out. Furthermore, it is even more impressive to see what the Impronaunts can do with it.

“It is incredibly satisfying to hear the audience laugh as your object is read out”

Particularly commendable is how they incorporate anachronisms. For example one audience object was ‘ye olde flat-screen television (4k)’. This was turned into a well-crafted metaphor on how those who appeared shiny and attractive are lacking in dimension. However, it was less impressive when the troupe introduced anachronisms themselves, such as the reference to the guillotine.

As to be expected, some objects worked better than others, but most were incorporated without hesitation. The only time this broke down was when a member of the troupe did not understand the word ‘gaol’ and it had to be explained to her as ‘jail’. The show was most successful when the troupe referred back to objects that had been selected earlier in the show. The most striking examples were the throwback to the ‘deathwatch beetle’ and the ‘fall of the Roman Empire’.


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If you are looking for a perfectly crafted narrative then improv is not the place to find it. The story can lose its thread, the characters do not have finely crafted personalities, and plot holes can quickly appear. However, the Impronaunts showed that improv is more than an after dinner party game or a 90s TV show. Much Improv is an enjoyable and humour-filled night at the theatre.

Much Improv About Nothing runs at the Corpus Playroom until Saturday 18 November 2017

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