Blind Mirth

Wed 15th – Sat 25th August 2012

reviews

Thomas Stell

at 02:48 on 17th Aug 2012

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You don’t go to improvised comedy just to be amused. A fully written sketch show or a funny play can do that just as well and often better. You go for the excitement of seeing comedic minds at work right in front of you, for the tiny possibility of everything going wrong which the performers always just avoid. Blind Mirth gets that. The troupe draw you into their joke-making because you really want their jokes to work, they are naturally charismatic and quick-witted but never so much as to become glib.

They begin their improvisations with games. The audience calls out historical figures, pieces of stationary and members of unusual professions who meet each other for a few minutes of banter. The audience calls for strange kinds of shop to be presented, and they are not disappointed. In the second half of the show one of us leant them an iPod, the songs on which were the inspiration for more clowning around, which led into longer, more worked out sketches, but never so worked out as to lose that spontaneous quality.

We see a lot of Arthur and Lancelot for some reason, and Voldemort turns up too, confiding in McGonagall his nervous habit of leaving bits of his soul in bizarre places. Characters reappear unpredictably in different situations and sketches, and there is a lot of self-reference, but never too much. There is nothing fashionably meta-comic about any of it.

Certainly it could have been better. A few lines were not all they might have been and some of the mime was a bit careless. Well done mime is often overlooked in comedy but can really improve things. The later sketches could also have had more to do with the iPod’s songs. But the performers have shown that they are capable of very good work, and as they are just a university comedy group that is especially impressive. Their show would have done many professional ensembles credit.

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Anwen Jones

at 09:39 on 17th Aug 2012

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The good thing about improvisation shows is that every night is different. Knowing this, however, also means you have no idea what to expect.

This is the pure excitement of watching improvisation and echoes how I felt when entering the theatre to watch 'Blind Mirth'. As a group of university students from St Andrews, there was a certain intrigue within me as to how they would compare to more professional improv groups I have witnessed at the Fringe, and more importantly, how they would work and engage with a varied audience of all ages. Surely they couldn’t maintain the same attitudes they have when performing back at university?

They soon proved to me that this was a ridiculous question. Bouncing around the stage, giggling at the audience suggestions, watching intently to other scenes when not performing, even hijacking a woman’s iPod to use as music between sketches – 'Blind Mirth' were most definitely full of a youthful, vibrant energy and a supposed carefree attitude to what was happening before them. At some points, the show felt more like a get-together with friends than a fee-paying performance. But thank God for that.

The cast’s relaxed attitude and obvious rapport with one another allows the audience to sit back and feel in capable hands; portrayals of an American Tom Riddle and slightly Scottish Professor McGonagall, a love mix-up between King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot and his welsh wife Guineninoonveeeeee (the pronunciation changed every time) - every scene was executed with enthusiasm warranting a raucous amount of laughter from the audience. It soon became a work-in-progress, suggestions shooting back and forth from stage to floor, the connection between audience and actors growing. 'Blind Mirth' has the exceptional ability to present the strangest concept or character and make the audience accept its oddity. You become almost entranced with the action before you, not once questioning decisions like placing a female actor as an American boy with a metrosexual father, or two actors standing with arms spread-wide to resemble talking bed lamps – anything goes in this show and that’s what makes it so entertaining.

There were only a few minor issues that prevented the show from being near perfect. As is the case with improvisation, the actors have no idea where the sketch will go and consequently will be forced to act and think in any given moment. At times, because of this, sketches lost momentum whilst the actors tried to discover a new excitement in the scene. Some sketches should be cut before this loss of entertainment and off-stage actors should be more willing to halt a scene at it’s height. Also, although the cast were strong and worked exceptionally well together, there were some actors who appeared stronger than others. Weak links within a performance are not necessarily significant but an actor struggling to find a way into a scene can sometimes appear dead-footed and detracts slightly from the hilarious things that are happening on stage.

However, I hate to be nit-picking. In short, I thoroughly enjoyed the show that was 'Blind Mirth'. I was even more impressed by the confidence and professionalism of the actors because they were university students – I can’t wait to see what they’ll be like in a couple of years! It is a fun, easy going, charming performance packed full of humour, intelligence and inexplicable pleasure. Well done 'Blind Mirth'.

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