lzzard. Frost and Mullarkey: crazy lmprov knights

Wannabee an improviser‘? Neil ‘sketch-a—minute’ Mullarkey offers ten hot tips to get you started.

1. Remember how lucky you are to be getting paid to stand on stage and utter the first thing that comes into your head.

2. If you say something daft. by accident. say it three times. and then it becomes funny.

3. When you ask for an unusual occupation. people will shout ‘taxidermist'. ‘condom-tester‘. ‘comedian‘. This will never change.

4. When you say something that the audience doesn't find funny. but your fellow-performers do. stick with it. Your reward will come in ‘eornedy heaven‘. a place where the Ice Man and Bob Boyton do sets hourly.

5. lfa scene isn't going well. Stephen Frost will hit someone. Try to make sure it isn‘t you.

6. lfa scene isn’t going well. Eddie Izzard will walk off stage. saying. 'l‘m going for a cheese sandwich. my lord‘. no matter what character he is playing. in whatever era. At this point you should hit Stephen Frost.

7. When you ask the audience for a

household object. someone will always

shout out ‘wife’. locate the shoutcr and

invite him to join the human race.

8. When you ask fora physical position for one person. someone will undoubtedly shout out ‘69‘ »- to which you must respond: ‘If I could do that on my own. do you think I'd be here doing this show I"

9. Audience members (and stand-up comedians on occasion. in print) will say: ‘That isn‘t really improvised‘. They are absolutely right. When pressed admit the truth —- that there is a team of fifteen writers who deliver the script six weeks in advance. ()nly after intensive rehearsals w ill it be hossiblc to achieve that veneer of authenticity whereby performers talk over each other. trip over their words. rnishear their colleagues. say something they didn‘t mean to and go red. giggle. and do whole bits that don't work at all. Most people are fooled by this charadc. but very clever people are not.

10. Some critics will write that it's not as good as scripted w ork. They are right ol'course. And watching a firework display is not as good as reading a novel.

I lmprov M.D. (l’ringe) liddic l/./.ard. Stephen Frost. Neil Mullarkey. Gilded Balloon (\"enue 38) 226 2151. 27 Aug-2 Sept. 4pm. £6.50 (£5.50).



Although it should be no surprise to learn that this 40-minute show is about having the courage to act on your desires. the actual content will come as quite a shock. Smith opens proceedings with a touching run through the ‘too too sullied flesh' soliloquy. and from then on he explores Hamlet's dilemma by reading a poignant student-penned poem and discussing Prozac. London gangster


l‘Ttlllle liraiser and u American relaxation

Easily the most affecting aspect is ()phelia's mad scene a , thinly veiled attack by the T actress Sally on her ex- lover Richard Herring. You almost get the feeling that this whole hilarious production was created by j Smith to help a friend through a bad patch and to fulfil his ambition to play the Danish prince. If so. then it's also Smith‘s way of laughing in the face of mortality and despair. Kill your uncle for a ticket. (lan Watson)

I Arthur Smith’s Hamlet (Fringe) Pleasance (Venue

Arthur Smith's Hamlet: hilarious

33) 556 6550. until 2 Sept. 4.40pm. £6/£5 (£5/£~1).



After a predictable delay in the shambles that is Demarco's we were duly rewarded with this half- realised. urider-rehearsed [waddle concerning a penniless clerk who is rescued from death and courted by 19th century l‘rench society. Once there he inexplicably and involuntarily digests Shakespeare's original manuscripts (or were they ltlk‘c‘si’).

The point of Day id S/alay's script is vague. and is ill-sery ed in this shouting match of a production which negates the few TTLlSllL‘S ()l inycntiveness displayed. It attempts to portray the sweep of imagined history in a grotesque style. but doesn't go far enough in any way to com ince. (Neil Cooper)

I The Paper Eater (liringe) Reynolds Scale S/alay Company. The Demarco liuropean Art l-‘oundation (Venue 22) 558 337l. until 2 Sept. 3.20pm. £5 (£3.50).



Parallel portraits of the yery' different lives of a middle class Bosnian aid worker and a young music student living in the midst of the conflict are presented in Alan R. .lones's new play.

After a moody opening things slide into sentimentalism. with any perceivable action outweighed by an overload of explanation. Though moving at times and worthy in intent. it is completely static and. until the last few minutes. devoid of any narrative thrust. If the tragedy of Bosnia is to be addressed seriously by theatre it needs to be made of far stronger stuff than this. (Neil Cooper)

I Baked Beans For Bosnia (l-‘r-inge) t)t-Z.-\ Production Scotland. ' ’he Demarco foundation. 55S 337l. until 2 Sept (not Suns) 5.30pm. £7 (£5).


London-based Black Theatre Co-operative meld a history lesson with a celebration of black culture in a fierce and sexy blend of dancing. lighting and story-telling. Underscored with the story of a 17th century Brazilian freedom fighter. what emerges is a cogent

complexity within ‘black culture'. both past and present. Despite an unapologetically aggressive tone. the piece steers clear of indulgence by virtue of its professionalism. high production quality and a sharp director's eye. At almost two hours.

how ever. it loses

momentum with too many

last minute lessons. but it's a powerful and invigorating performance well worth seeing. (Lynn ls'eating)

I ZUITIbl (l'l'lllg‘c‘) lilack

Theatre (‘o-operative. St

Bride's C‘entre (Venue 62)

346 IJ05. until 2 Sept (not 27) 3.40pm. £5 (£3).


l..-\-based company Diavolo Dance Theatre

liuropean debut with an industrial chunk-sized of tough. exhilarating physical theatre. First off the mark was .-lll"()/. ultra-athletic liurocrash laced with humour. with these well—drilled dance-

athletes courting danger in

black logs and balaclavas.

Bolt/our was a kooky little dance-nugget based round

the simple greeting ‘bonjourl'. and [DR (the world premiere of the

night) a tense. tight-fitting

piece with dancers pinned up between metal joists in an inspired climbing- frame style set.

But the highlight of this promising young company s set was

undoubtedly 'li'n' [in l.'.-lir

(Head in the Clouds). whose lasting image is of a seemingly endless stream of dancers cascading down from the diz/y. smoke-filled heights of a giant wooden ‘stairway to heaven'. (lillic Carr)

vision of the diyersity and

stormed into town on their

Big Blonde: nttlng. bittersweet wit

I Tete En l’Ail’ (Fringe) Diavolo Dance Theatre (Venue 46) Church Hill Theatre. 4-17 ()1 l 1. until 2 Sept. 5.30pm. £5 (£3).


Miss Dorothy Parker's semi-autobiographical caustic short story proves to be the inspiration behind this superlative performance by Chicago actress Shirley Anderson. Charting the bittersweet decline courtesy of Scotch. the blues and a trail ofguys called Herb. lid and Art —- of this once blow/y good-time gal. Anderson uncompromisingly draws (is into the fading heart of her lost soul Hazel Morse. There are shades of a maudlin and vulnerable Marilyn Monroe in her poignancy. yet a deep seam of Parker‘s searing humour. continues to burst forth throughout. making for one of the strongest productions this reviewer has had the pleasure of witnessing this liestival. (Ann Donald) I Big Blonde (l-ringe) Studio 103. Hill Street Theatre (\'enue 4 l ) 226 6522. until 2 Sept (not 23. 29). 5.40pm. £5 (£3).

\ .i Zumbl: fierce and sexy

l i

The List 25 Aug-7 Sept 1995 31