Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Mischief Movie Night

Improvisation
Mischief Theatre
Northcott Theatre, Exeter

Masters of mayhem Mischief Theatre (The Play That Goes Wrong, Peter Pan Goes Wrong etc) expose themselves to the least forgiving form of theatre—improvisation—in a wacky, breathless Thank God You’re Here / Who’s Line Is It Anyway?-esque hour (or so).

The conceit is an invite to movie night with Oscar (Jonathan Sayer). The audience offers genre, setting and title… and off the talented cohesive ensemble go with a couple of musicians providing the atmospheric soundtrack and score for off-the-cuff musical numbers.

On press night, the chosen genre was Disney with a pinch of horror set in a garden centre and entitled Chairs, Stairs and Gorillas. Great fun.

Sayer controls the chaos and throws curved balls: freezing the action, rewinding, commenting on any missed beats, mixed messages or madness, and setting up challenges for the next act.

So we had Henry Lewis as Bobby, the bumbling lonely garden furniture salesman, too shy to declare his love for Jessie (Ellie Morris). Taking advice from the resident troupe of apes, his chest-beating overtures and faeces offerings fail to win the girl and so he does a deal with slurky evil Venus Flytrap (a smooth-talking Dave Hearn) thereby betraying his best friend Annabelle (a charismatic Charlie Russell) the all-knowing woodlouse.

Add a spiky smattering of cacti-dandelion dalliance, murky history with tulips, Brooklyn bagel-eating mama, trapezing in the sunset, dire deaths, dancing, debate on ‘no’ meaning ‘no’, barbershop quarteting and ensemble singing—and wow.

So very clever—loved it.

Reviewer: Karen Bussell