Impronauts with permission for Varsity

Improvisation: the terrifying task of performing something completely unplanned, thought up right on the spot. Combine that already daunting mission with the task of providing comedic entertainment to a packed audience at the Corpus Playroom - this was the assignment for the Impronauts in their latest show, One Last Job. With a plot that can only be described as Ocean’s 8 meets Monty Python, this Impronauts production portrays a classic heist story in very unconventional circumstances.

Having never attended an improv show before, I went in with an open mind, unsure what to expect. When the show opened with the characters immediately interacting with the audience, my heart skipped a beat: “Am I going to have to be funny?” Luckily, other audience members played that role perfectly, setting the actors up for a chaotic ride with increasingly outlandish suggestions such as “Kidneys!” being thrown about in response to the question of what the object of the heist should be. From baker, to mime, to go-kart driver, the plot was littered with crazy characters which allowed the actors to showcase their creativity and imagination.

“The hilarious self-awareness of the actors was much appreciated”

The beauty of this kind of show is that each night of performance will provide you with a totally unique experience. I write now in high praise of Yuhang Xie’s portrayal of a mime, perfectly balancing his almost blank facial expression with elaborate gestures, yet every other night he will have to quickly adapt to the present situation. (Though hopefully he will be given the opportunity to showcase his incredible physical comedy skills to future audiences.) In fact, the show excelled when humour came from the set-up and the physicalization, rather than scenes that relied purely on dialogue. A particular scene in which two of the actors used two small grey blocks as cars on the road next to each other comes to mind, as the audience were in stitches as they ‘rolled down the windows’ in slow motion.

The hilarious self-awareness of the actors was much appreciated, as they repeatedly called out their own narrative inconsistencies in their dialogue, with an effective tongue-in-cheek tone.

As can be expected with amateur improvisation, the show was slightly rough around the edges, but it rapidly picked up in energy after a slower start. At one point, a blackout occurred whilst actors were still talking on stage, causing an awkward trailing off of the lines and an unintentionally brupt ending to the scene, leaving the storyline unfinished and the actors with slightly mortified facial expressions. On the other hand, there were a couple of times where the audience were made hyper-aware that the actors were improvising, as they scrambled to conjure up longer sentences to keep the narrative flowing, and in these moments the cut-off from the blackout was perhaps appreciated.

“The constant chuckling and bouts of applause from the audience are testament to the whimsical nature of this show”

Having said this, the majority of the show was crisp and sharp, and the quick responses from the actors to each other was highly commendable. At one moment a shout of “flashback” erupted from the side of the audience where the actors not currently on stage were standing, and it was fascinating to see the split second reactions of their castmates on stage as they descended into an unexpected flashback sequence. Special praise should also be given to the musician John Conacher, who not only built up the ambience as the audience were filing into their seats, but throughout the show provided the perfect live underscore to enhance the humour and atmosphere of the scenes.


Mountain View

In Neighbourhood Watch, paranoid, hypersexed nimbys run riot

The constant chuckling and bouts of applause from the audience are testament to the whimsical nature of this show. I overheard one attendee say they have booked tickets for every night, and considering the endless possibilities of characters which the actors may have to take on, I fully respect and am slightly envious of their decision. This show is perfect for providing an hour of pure humorous entertainment - a much needed distraction to get us through the end of term - whilst simultaneously showcasing the immense skills of all the actors who are able to create a cohesive show on the spot.

Impronauts: One Last Job is showing at the Corpus Playroom from Wed 6th - Sat 9th March