The 10th annual London 50 hour Improvathon is an improvised story in twenty five, two hour long sections. Performed by a delicious group of young talented actors. It is hilarious, warm hearted and a laugh a second.
The two, two hour sections that I witnessed were hilarious. Even the hardcore blanket wrapped sections of the audience, quietly snoozing in and about the front rows, seemed satisfied with the entertainment. They were however a little miffed that the theatre management had seen fit to ban sleeping in the aisles during the performance. Obviously Health and Safety gone mad.
The cast seemed to be holding up well and retaining their optimism. Early days yet, only twenty four hours gone and twenty six hours still left to go. The actors are unscripted and unrehearsed and some eighteen of them are due to continue for the full fifty hours with a further twenty seven who, presumably lacking staying power, are listed as Guest Cast.
The acting schedule for each two hour section is actually a one hour and forty five minutes of performance, followed by fifteen minutes of clearing up coffee mugs, grabbing as much (presumably non alcoholic) sustenance as possible and visiting the bathroom.
Each section consists of many short acts which comprise anything from improvised one or two person humorous monologues to improvised full cast dance routines and from improvised singing of improvised songs to leading the audience in improvised tomfoolery. You are probably beginning to notice a pattern emerging.
Each act is proceeded by a disembodied voice who variously:
1. Guides the story along nicely or
2. Torments the cast with unattainable and embarrassing goals.
All depending on your point of view I suppose. I will just say that I have not heard so many “oh no’s” since my first date fifty years ago.
The story is a mash up of Game of Thrones (henceforth known as GOT), Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean with a definite GOT bias, at least during the mere four hours which I witnessed of the show.
All your favourite characters from GOT are represented, including the beautiful Daenerys Targaryen the Mother of Dragons, dark and moody Jon Snow and high flying Irish spiv Peter Baelish aka Little Finger.
They have however, wisely but subtly, changed the character names to Daenerys ThreeCardigans, Jon Bastard and various suggestive finger combinations, the least objectionable of which is Fish Finger.
The sharp eyed among you might have also spotted the Lord of the Rings contingent comprising the bearded Elf friend Gandalph and Gollum (almost naked and renamed Column for some unspeakable reason but probably to do with his Precious) and many more.
Wilton’s Music Hall is beautiful and historic and has a certain Shabby Chic. I love it. The cast were warm, talented and seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the experience with no obvious signs of fatigue at the moment, though only time will tell.
I would recommend that you make the effort to go and see any of the future 50 Hour Improvathons if you can, and lend your voice, hands and enthusiasm to this totally audience inclusive show.
And, if you dare, why not endure the entire fifty hour experience, after all it is cheaper than a couple of nights in a hotel, has a better class of fellow guests and a 24 hour bar. However, as previously mentioned, no sleeping in the aisles is allowed and there is no laundry service.
Reviewed by Graham Archer
Photo: Claire Bilyard