An Improbable Musical
25 October 2022
2.0 out of 5.0 stars
I love good improv, and have seen several improvised musicals that I enjoyed very much. So when I saw that the Hackney Empire is hosting An Improbable Musical, I thought I’d give it a whirl and check it out.
The theme and a few key words were of course provided by the audience, and the improv troupe then uses these cues to create a story and songs around this theme.
Of course this is always a different show depending on what themes the improv is based on, and maybe I just happened to attend a weaker night, but this one really wasn’t up to the standards I’d expect from an improv musical on a big stage.
I think part of this was because they chose a setting that none of the actors were familiar with, which could have easily been remedied had they asked for further suggestions until they found one that they can work with. As it happened, the suggested setting chosen was video game store, which led to a few scenes of people unfamiliar with gaming talking about how unfamiliar they are with gaming.
The scenes didn’t actually mesh together well, so there was no story spun together, rather it was a loose collection of separate storylines that didn’t become a cohesive story at all. On their own, they weren’t bad stories, I just couldn’t see much effort in joining them into a story that works for a musical. I’d be more inclined to call it a song cycle than a musical.
Of course, the performers were doing their best, and they were good at improv within the scenes they presented. The song about finding hope in a Kaleidoscope was definitely a triumph! I just wish they’d have prepared a lose story they could spin into a cohesive musical with improvised songs, or worked better as a team to make it all come together.
To me, it felt almost like performers were competing with each other, rather than working as a team and building on each other’s ideas.