Mischief Movie Night ★★★★★
Arts Theatre, London
Director: The Audience!
Cast: Bryony Corrigan, Jonathan Sayer, Henry Shields, Henry Lewis, Charlie Russell, Dave Hearn, Ellie Morris, Josh Elliot, Harry Kershaw
Mischief Theatre have done it again! They have been extremely successful in the last few years, seeing The Play That Goes Wrong take the West End by storm and spawning both a UK tour and a trip to Broadway; as well as having another original stage show in The Comedy About A Bank Robbery being met with similar adulation, and having two Christmas/ New Year performances filmed for the BBC, Peter Pan Goes Wrong, and A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong. Following on from these successes, is this improvised comedy called Mischief Movie Night, a comedy where the audience suggest a genre, location and title and the magnificent actors improvise and bring the show to life, complete with rewinds, fast forwards, directors cuts and a thrilling live score.
The audience that I was a part of decided upon a Superhero film set in New York City called Face Off where the superhero’s power was to be transformation, either into a person, or something.
This was the first improvised comedy I have seen at the theatre, and I absolutely adored it! The whole production was well managed and executed perfectly. One aspect that I noticed and which helped with the flow of the performance was by having Sayer at the side of the stage watching the film with his remote in hand. Not only did this give the actors in the film time to regroup and think, it also helped with the timings, especially when an audience ‘remembered’, when asked about his favourite moment in the film, was that the massacre was half-way through the film! Sayer’s role was one I loved, as he was as much a viewer as the audience, laughing at moments of hilarity, pausing the film at moments where some context or added information was either helpful (rare) or outrageously funny (often). An example of this, was when he paused the film when someone said a line about “a cat eating itself”, he proceeded to pause the film with a mighty grin of his face and have the cast act out this…event.
All of the cast were exemplary, and I didn’t expect anything else from the talented Mischief Theatre company. The roles of everyone was hard to keep track of as they had multiple roles, including bartenders, unicorns, drawbridges and… hats, but also some of the names were easily said wrong like *cough cough* Jacques/Chuck. The film’s cast included: Madame Ovary/Movary (Russell) ((I may have misheard that one!)), Le Strange (Corrigan), Brad (Shields), Tad (Lewis), Chuck/Butler (Hearn), Journalist (Morris) and Papa (Elliott).
My favourite moments and lines from their performance;
– Tad’s uncompromising and blunt delivery, in his British accent. “He’s gone. Our lives are over.”
– Le Strange’s Chuck/Jacques mix up, which got funnier and funnier every time she got it wrong.
– “Riddle door.”
– When Madame Ovary transformed into an eagle and was flying (with Shields and Lewis carrying her) and Sayer pauses the film for quite a while, testing her abs!
– “Brad and Tad ended having a spin-off film”- cut to sketch from said film.
It was a pleasure to watch the Mischief Theatre actors perform comedy once again, and I am looking forward to A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong (to be aired on 30th December on the BBC). Any time I watch something created by these talented writers and actors they never cease to leave my sides well and truly split, and my abs and jaw aching from all of the laughing. They adapted very well to every situation wonderfully well, and I am no doubt that they will continue making hilarious theatre productions together, and my hope is that they get a chance to transfer their ability and popularity to the small screen as British TV has missed comedies like this for a long time- the company have a sense of humour similar to one that comes across in the Blackadder TV series.