Time Busters

Fri 13th – Sat 14th March 2015


Ed Grimble

at 21:14 on 13th Mar 2015



I am, for the first time in my life, in the quite unusual position of writing a review for play which hasn’t actually finished. In fact, it’s not even half way through. Bizarre as it may seem, this is what Bristol Improv Theatre’s latest endeavor ‘Timebusters’, is really all about- pushing our conceptions about theatre to their outermost limits. A team of extremely talented performers from across the UK, in conjunction with the co-directors of Bristol’s fortnightly improvised soap-opera ‘Closer Each Day’, and the Bristol Improv Theatre, have taken on the enormous task of staging a 26 hour 385 second improvised theatre performance running from the evening of Friday 13th March, right through until the night of Saturday 14th.

Dubbed the ‘improvathon’ by ‘Closer Each Day’ co-directors John Lomas and Matthew Whittle, the performance is a theatrical homage to marathon runners. Switching pounding the pavements for treading the boards, the cast of over 30 wonderful actors deliver (and, as I write this, are still delivering) a remarkable day of theatre. The play centers on the fictional archaeological television programme Timebusters, the show ‘heading for ruins!’ The team this week have descended on the town of Glastonbury, intent on scouring the tranquil fields of Somerset on their quest to uncover the enigmatic treasures of the past. Interactions and episodes involving the presenters, producers and crew form the backbone of the action, ranging from an incompetent newspaper interview with a local druid to the brutal business plans of a national car park developer who ‘wants to bring the residents of Glastonbury something they don't have: concrete.’

The cast themselves generally act to a high standard. Of course, this is a different kind of performing to that which we are used to in a traditional play. ‘Timebusters’ had no rehearsals, no storyboard, in short- no idea, in which direction it would be heading. Improvised comedy requires not only a razor sharp wit, but also the ability to react as well as act. Even the most well crafted line runs the risk of becoming lost if it is not followed by a response of equal value. In this area, all those involved in the play should be given ample credit for their abilities.

One of the great achievements of the night is undoubtedly the sheer breadth of performing talent that the team behind ‘Timebusters’ have managed to amass. The show draws on performers from shows and troupes across the country, including Degrees of Error, The Unnamed Improv Group, Bristol Improv Society, Watch This Space, Instant Wit, Bath Improv, as well as actors from Oxford, Cambridge and London performing circles. ‘Timebusters’ is therefore fundamentally a confident announcement from supporters of improvised theatre that should only serve to raise the profile of this somewhat niche area of the performing arts scene. This itself is worthy of praise.

The ensemble have, without a doubt, worked tirelessly to hone their abilities to a degree that enables this kind of performance to even be conceived, let alone put on. However, despite the mammoth task of staging a show of this magnitude, all involved carry the flag of improvised theatre with talent and verve.


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