Mischief Movie Night


Mischief Theatre Company
Pleasance at EICC

Dave Hearn & Company Credit: Pamela Raith
The Company of Mischief Movie Night Credit: Helen Maybanks

There is a lot of impro at the Fringe this year. You can experience anything from improvised musicals to improvised Sherlock Holmes. Mischief is the company behind The Play That Goes Wrong series, and their impro theme for this event is 'movies'—although don’t expect any actual screenings or much in the way of movie references. Although they perform in a very large auditorium with a very big screen, this is still stage impro with the same formulae of suggestions from the audience leading to an hour of improvised drama.

Not that it isn’t very clever and very funny because it is. Unlike the smaller companies, there are six actors plus a narrator / MC and two musicians to play out the scenarios.

This is long-form impro, so just one lot of audience suggestions leading to an hour playing out the same theme.

So on the night I was there, the genre chosen was hospital drama with a bit of silent film, romcom and documentary shoehorned into the mix, with a title of Birth, Death And The Middle Bit to be getting on with.

I was hoping for more film references, maybe the use of some famous actors as characters or famous characters incorporated into whatever genre was chosen, but this wasn’t the structure.

So we start off in an operating theatre with two surgeons, one the son of the Chief Consultant, labouring under the fact he is completely useless and kills all the patients he operates on, with a female mentor who is trying to help him and with whom he gradually falls in love. Although he’s totally incompetent, he’s not sacked as there’s a plot afoot by his father to kill as many patients he can to get financial gain, and the plot follows a route of convoluted mayhem and mishap as the narrator stops the scene every so often to throw other suggestions of plot or character development in to the mix.

There are some clever improvised songs as well and the company keep the laughs going while obviously enjoying themselves immensely too.

It’s all resolved with an ending of sorts—not that it really matters. The audience were lapping it up and the company went out on a high with a last rendition of the theme song.

If you like a bit of silliness and slapstick along with some clever off the cuff impro, then this is for you. But don’t expect too much relation to film.

Reviewer: Suzanne Hawkes