Review: Impromptu Shakespeare

Impromptu Shakespeare

One would be forgiven for thinking a show entitled ‘Impromptu Shakespeare’, wherein the entire concept is for the cast to create a brand new Shakespeare play in every show, would be performed almost entirely in the Bard’s synonymous iambic pentameter verse format.  Barring the occasional slightly awkward rhyming couplet, however, this is sadly not the case.

So, with that in mind, this becomes less of a company SPECIALISING in improvising Shakespeare and more of a generic improv troupe who seem to have been rather just given Shakespeare as a somewhat unhelpful suggestion from a particularly mean audience member and are trying to deal with the “thees” and “thous” to the best of their abilities.

Therein lies the rub, though, as their abilities are decidedly uneven. Without doubt, Tom Wilkinson demonstrates the most genuine improvisational acumen and at least tries to keep the dialogue as Shakespearian sounding as possible. He often faces an uphill struggle though as other cast members forego plot and language in favour of cheap gags and mugging to the audience.

This is where my personal confusion as to the intention of this production rears its head. IF this is intended to be ‘improvised comedy’ (à la ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’), but with Shakespeare as a general umbrella term over proceedings, then it DOES work.

There were some genuinely quick witted flashes and clever recurring jokes worked into the threadbare plot and the audience were clearly enjoying the humour of the situation – but, and it is a big BUT, if this is (to quote their own publicity) “a new Shakespeare play made up on the spot using audience suggestions” then sadly it does not.

In basic terms, if you are a fan of generic improv comedy, you will probably like this. If, however, you were hoping for something a bit more specialised, then you, like me, may well leave feeling a little dissatisfied.

3 stars

Impromptu Shakespeare by KPS Productions and Lost & Found

Underbelly Cowgate (venue 61)

14.10pm until August 25th 2013

Buy Tickets Here

Blog Comedy Fringe ,

2 reviews

  1. ray, August 21, 2013 6:53 pm - Review: Impromptu Shakespeare

    It clearly says on their publicity that they have ‘Their tongues firmly in their cheeks and their feet firmly planted in the works of shakespeare’ perhaps you could have read it more thoroughly.
    I went to see this show with my family and all enjoyed it. I felt they had the balance between comedy and serious Shakespearean verse spot on. After all Shakespeare writes in blank verse and prose. More important to me was they remained within the confines of Shakespeare but looked like they were having a lot of fun teetering on the edge. If everyone else in the audience is laughing perhaps being you, I would look at myself and say perhaps I am the glum one in the room.

    I guess it depends what day you see it too as they make it up everyday. Hats off to them. I cannot recommend it enough.


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    Allan Scott-Douglas, August 21, 2013 7:46 pm - Review: Impromptu Shakespeare

    Each entirely to their own. I’m glad you enjoyed it so much. My enjoyment was simply more tempered, however. That is the just nature of opinions.


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