The Revolution will be Improvised is The Blank Slates Improv’s latest show that focuses on the end of the world because of a mermaid uprising. But the reason for the apocalypse the following night, and the story lines that this leads to, could be completely different.
After living a stone’s throw away from Camden People’s Theatre as a fresher, and gazing in when passing by to see artsy-looking students practicing what the venue’s website describes as ‘unconventional theatre’, I was intrigued to finally go inside to watch The Blank Slates Improv’s sellout performance of The Revolution will be Improvised.
The cast began with an introductory game to help the audience get into the flow of shouting out suggestions – a game that set the level for just how funny the play was going to be. The audience were instructed to aggressively shout ‘die’ at the improvisers if they lost track of what they were saying and left the audience and cast members alike laughing their heads off, if also feeling somewhat manic for shouting so threateningly at the cast we had come to watch.
The evening continued with the audience deciding what would happen in the play: the fact that there was an apocalypse had been decided in advance, but what had caused the apocalypse was left for the audience to decide. After Jessica Edney, director and compère, told the audience that no mentions of Trump were allowed, and rejected a number of mundane options (the cast was definitely funnier than the audience members), she settled on the suggestion of a mermaid uprising as the reason for the end of the world.
Various story lines stemmed from this: the tale of three mermaids (Nessie Bridgland, Sophie O’Sullivan and Polly Cohen) desperate to split their legs apart to be like the pelican/ Aunt Bessie character (Nat Abell) who they saw on the shore; a love triangle (Ben Banks, Madelaine Hanson and Dwayne Thompson) that resulted in a baby being eaten by a trout; and a boy (also Dwayne Thompson) whose identical twin brother – only differentiated by sunglasses – could switch between being a merman and a human as he saw fit. These story lines only scratch the surface of the weird and wonderful goings on and yes, it really was as bizarre as it sounds.
The first half was really brilliant; all of the cast contributed hilarious puns, popular-culture references and a high-paced approach to every scene, which really captivated the audience and had people laughing so much that the cast had to pause to let the laughter stop before commencing their next lines. The speed at which the cast fed off each other’s lines and in turn created clever, comical responses was exceptionally impressive.
The second half was definitely more confusing than the first and, while I can only imagine that coming up with consistently witty lines for almost 2 hours is far from easy, this difficulty did begin to show in the second half. Edney did well to keep the action moving, but some cast members stopped bouncing off the lines of their co-actors quite as well as they had done in the first half and did not help out as much by taking over control if someone’s monologue was not going quite to plan.
Overall, I had a very enjoyable evening and was very pleased to hear that The Revolution will be Improvised will be taken to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the summer, but will be about half the length. The cast is definitely witty and clever enough for a crowd outside of UCL to thoroughly enjoy their performance, and in this shorter time frame, it will lead to less audience confusion and a chance for the actors to improvise a shorter and even funnier show.
Photo Credits: Serena Bhandari