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Mini-reviews from the first Edinburgh Improv Fest (which ended a week ago...but future reference?)



Remember last August when I was super organised and published mini-reviews of Fringe shows with only five days left of the Fringe?

Well, I haven't learned my lesson.

Last weekend I attended the very first Edinburgh International Festival, and this weekend I'm publishing my mini-reviews on the performers. It's over. It's in the past. So you can't pop along and catch the end of it. But there were local improv groups there who perform regularly in Edinburgh and Glasgow....so me writing these reviews has some purpose. If it becomes a yearly thing you'll know to go next year! Or maybe I just need a blog calendar that I stick to.

(If you're wondering "wtf is improv?" it's comedy that's made up on the spot....which is not as disorganised as it sounds. My friend is doing classes right now and there are techniques and psychology. The audience members are asked for suggested words, celebrities, locations etc, and the performers create something out of it. You've probably spotted stand-up comedians repeating material from time-to-time. That doesn't happen with improv.)

And uh, I was only there on Saturday. Sorry performers on Thursday, Friday and Sunday.

The Cutting Room (Edinburgh)

I've been familiar with The Cutting Room for a while, having heard incredible things about their performances at The Fringe (I've not been able to attend any of them. How do people narrow down their Fringe choices? I usually pull performances out of a hat or let my friends decide for me). I discovered on Saturday that they are worth the hype. They performed a typical Harold that managed to float between a hot dog eating competition, a 40-year-old woman having sex with goulash and posh Milton Keynes types getting a bit too rowdy over Crufts. 10/10, would see again.

Murder of Crows (Copenhagen)

When Murder of Crows took to the stage, they had a serious vibe to them. They were decked out in dapper suit trousers and white shirts (including the girls), the lights were dimmed red, and we were told they would be performing an improvised Art Noir piece. Art Noir isn't a film genre I tend to gravitate towards, so I was a mixture of intrigued and unsure. It worked so well in the end, with passive and sarcastic humour (my favourite) with plenty of gangster drama added in for good measure.

Tinderellas (Edinburgh)

The Tinderellas was the team that I was most excited to see. Their schtick is creating improv on audience dating stories and as someone who writes openly about their dating life online, you know this is up my street! They're also an all-female team so the feminist in me can get giddy. For their performance, they chose a format called The Living Room where the girls initiate a discussion between themselves (about dating) and then occasionally break into a storytelling scene. Their performance was personal and relatable, the girls came across as genuinely lovely, and their stories gave me a chuckle.

The A-Team (Los Angeles)

This was hands-down my favourite performance of the day. The A-Team, get this, create improvised musicals. Yes, they come up with a musical, based on audience suggestions, on the spot. I'm not going to pretend I wasn't cynical about this, but they really pulled it off. The talent on these guys is outstanding as not only did they have to create dialogue but they burst out into song (and some rap!) and there was even a guy playing the keyboard!

Carter & Murray (New York City)

This is the one I feel awkward reviewing as...it just wasn't for me. I know creatively and intellectually it was a good performance that other people might enjoy. I've been to enough improv shows to know it was good improv. It just felt a little bit...low key in comparison to the other performances? After watching an improvised musical, art noir film, and some goulash sex...two guys doing a Harold just got a bit lost within everything else. Carter & Murray are a super big deal in NYC and were the headline act, so maybe don't listen to me.

The Improverts (Edinburgh)

The Improverts are the University of Edinburgh's improv team. After getting over how much their baby faces reminded me that I'm edging closer to 30 than I would like, I was excited to see their half-hour performance of short form improv. Short form, if you're unfamiliar, is like improv games where the performers have a clear structure to work from - and is my favourite to watch. I liked their performance. Wasn't blown away by it but I wouldn't be put off the Improv Fest again if they performed next year.

The Inheritance (Bristol/Glasgow)

One-half of this improv team is also two-thirds of the Glasgow team Couch. Couch was the very first improv team I ever saw live, and I've seen them multiple times since. This team was different enough that it didn't feel like the same thing I see almost monthly at Blackfriars. They started their performance by asking an audience member to come up on stage who they then proceeded to ask questions to, which would then form the basis of their performance. And then it moved into a traditional long-form performance. Similar to the Improverts, enjoyed it but not blown away by it.

Did you manage to swing by the Edinburgh International Improv Festival? Let me know your thoughts on it! 
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