The Impronauts are talented but disappoint at the FringeEmil Evans

The Impronauts have given themselves a mammoth task for the revival of their hour long rom-com spoof, Improv Actually. With very little in the way of structure and audience participation, all the group seem to have latched onto is a vague and non-committal idea of some sort of love story that, frustratingly, takes away from the impressive improv skills the cast actually possess.

The performances of this particular comedic quadruplet (from a wider cast which rotates and often features guests), were largely quite strong, showing a good ability to pick jokes out of the absurdity of improvisation as well as being able to swiftly abandon gags that fall flat in favour of new ones. Many of the comedically rich moments, however, were often brushed over in order to continue the shaky and irrelevant plot that all four members seemed dedicated to dragging through right to its unceremonious end. This is not to say that the comedy is not there – it certainly is – but there is none of the traditional improv reliance on audience participation to pull the show out of a rut and keep the pace up, leaving the show feeling quite flat.

The audience is initially asked to contribute a “dating bio” on pieces of paper that supposedly goes on to shape the structure of the show, although exactly what that structure was meant to be still eludes me. This beginning, scribbling onto bits of paper, is the only time the audience is asked to participate and only one idea will be selected. Perhaps the lacklustre engagement can simply be put down to the nature of preview audiences which are, to say the least, thin on the ground – a factor that only serves to endanger improv.

The Impronauts are a strong comedy group but let themselves down by not placing enough credence in the audience’s desire to be involved in their world.

Nonetheless, it does seem that the Impronauts would benefit from placing more trust in each other, just as much as they would from putting more faith in the audience, to help the piece along. Some of the best moments came from one member putting the others through their paces, dictating a quick-fire set of scenarios. Watching two actors scramble to fulfil an increasingly bizarre set of requirements is exactly the kind of fast-paced humour that makes improvisation work but, while present, it was far too infrequently used.

A note of admiration must also go to Jonatan Rosten, who provided a beautifully subtle keyboard soundtrack to moments of tenderness or conflict. His delicate notes suggested the advent of an exposing monologue, yet some climatic builds often went ignored by other members of the troupe, leaving a sense of dissatisfaction that was pervasive throughout most of the show. It feels that perhaps the improvisers are unfamiliar with each other and their respective comedic styles. Rather than working collectively towards a common goal with both their fellow performers and the audience, they focus too much on themselves. Diving in to help revitalise a scene when it is needed or accepting the subtle direction being offered from the side lines (whether musical or otherwise) would no doubt help to maintain the madcap humour that does occasionally shine through.


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The Impronauts are a strong comedy group but let themselves down by not placing enough credence in the audience’s desire to be involved in their world. Instead, their overcommitment to a non-existent plot as well as the distinct lack of communication from members not involved in the current bit (who are best placed to note when a scene is drying up or falling flat) results in a stilted delivery and too much time between the actual comedic moments.

Despite its flaws, Improv Actually nevertheless manages to smash its way through the six-laugh test and leaves me keen to return to see what they can do with larger audiences and more time to relax into the run.

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