Aidan Pittman

The Cambridge Impronauts’ latest production, Whim City, will bring drama, laughter, mystery, and perhaps even romance to the ADC stage this week. Being improvised, it's quite hard to write a preview about the show itself - as any story, joke, scene or character that has appeared in a rehearsal or performance so far is guaranteed not to be seen again! It is perhaps more useful to talk about the concept, the people, and to give a sense of what can be expected.

Whim City was conceived by two leading-lights in the Impronauts: Alice Wenban and Hamish Thomas. They are directing and producing the show together, and have almost finished putting the cast through their paces. As an improvised long-form comedy, all the characters, motives, plot and dialogue must be created live, and will be woven together into one darkly enthralling story. Asked what is behind his vision, Hamish Thomas said, "Film noir has always been a favourite genre of mine; the murder, madness, mayhem and complete disregard for human life make for powerful cinema. Whim City aims to pack a similar punch, whilst keeping the audience laughing the whole way through." Alice Wenban explained further what she is aiming for: "I am so excited to create dark, twisted, and hilarious worlds full of bad bad guys and also bad good guys. I can't wait to see what the audience gives us and find out what twisty plots we get to play with!"

The Impronauts will be playing on the ADC stage with a cast of seven (including the directors), and will be accompanied on the keyboard with music improvised by Robbie Smith. Robbie provided musical drama in their Easter Term show Attack of the 50ft Improvisers. He is a brilliant comedy improviser too, and this really helps him to keep pace with the action on the stage, fitting his music to match the drama. Who knows - he may even step out from behind the keyboard at some point to join a scene!

“Each of the performances from Wednesday to Saturday will be entirely unique, so everyone will have to be ready for anything!”

Rehearsals have been hard work, and amazingly good fun. The cast have been practicing together at least twice a week since the start of term and have bonded really well. A lot of people wonder how improv can be rehearsed. Cast member Damian Smith explains: "Rehearsing for an improv show might be better thought of as training or preparation. We learn to keep to the genre, to create characters and relationships, and to work together to build a story arc. Hamish and Alice give us feedback and guidance to make the performance better each time. It's also vital that we learn to read and trust one another - I know I can join any of the cast on stage and we'll be on the same side, even if our characters are mortal enemies."

Unlike in a scripted show, theatregoers will witness something ephemeral - they help conceive the story, it is born in front of them, and only they will see it complete its arc and vanish. Audience suggestions will set the scene, and introduce twists. Each of the performances from Wednesday to Saturday will be entirely unique, so everyone will have to be ready for anything! Doubters are invited to buy tickets for multiple nights to compare. With so much up in the air, it's reassuring that many of the cast are just back from a successful run of the Impronauts' Rom-Com Improv Actually at the Edinburgh Fringe, with Fringe Binge commenting that "the improvised love story managed to be funny and engaging, feeling cohesive throughout." 


Mountain View

Attack of the 50ft Improvisers! review

The directors, cast, musician, lighting director and audience have no idea what tales will be told, or even who will step out in the first scene. The only certainty, apart from laughter, seems to be that something bad is bound to happen on the mean streets of 1940's Whim City, and it'll take a special someone to put it right.

Whim City will be showing at the ADC Theatre at 11pm, Wednesday 6th to Saturday 9th October.