‘Dinner Time’ was Bristol Improv’s most recent offering; a longform piece set at a dinner party, in celebration of [INSERT AUDIENCE’S ABSURD SUGGESTION]. Unfortunately, my offering of ‘getting Tango’d’ wasn’t chosen from the chalice, (probably for the best) but ‘Roger discovering life on the moon’ worked out a treat for both audiences and performers.
It was refreshing to see a cast of colour and diversity on stage, among a university and an industry that, as we’ve seen over the past few months, still has lots of work to do in that respect. The cast and their directors, Pravanya Pillay and Patrick Levermore, were brilliant and didn’t rely on observational, race-related humour – and why should they?
Personally, I’m skeptical about improv. Like organized religion, I get why people like it but I tend to stay away. But longform can offer a unique comedic playground, with a barebones structure that keeps the comedy moving, whilst still allowing enough absurdity for laughs, and many opportunities for the cast’s personal wit to shine through.
Philippe Bosher was a stand out of the show. The combination of full bodied characterization and comedic sharpness is a rare one, and combined with some brilliant facial expressions it lent Bosher a wonderful Rowan-Atkinson-ness. Wonderful to watch.
Sarah Alli, the straight man (/woman) to Bosher’s fool, did a brilliant job of catalyzing the comedy and keeping the narrative to avoid the staleness that can sometimes linger in Improv.
James Trickey and Flora Donald were wonderfully awkward as the man that found life on the moon and the best friend who was looking a little closer to home. I.e. SHE FANCIED THE PANTS OFF HIM. Not literally. It wasn’t that improvisational. But these two have been around the comedic block a bit, and it shows; their chemistry was perfect and by the end of the show the audience were screaming for them to kiss. We were sorely disappointed.
As was Philippe Bosher’s Alan, who commented on the build up in character – very meta. This was one of the most enjoyable elements of the show; the knowingness of the group, playing with the form of improv itself and pointing out the absurdity. Kudos to the directors for ensuring that the actors constantly mimed the world they were in, discovering difficulties with doors that don’t exist and non-existent beans burning in the microwave. It’s this kind of attention to detail that offers up a range of comedic possibilities, which ‘Dinner Time’ took full advantage of.