April 30th our first Club Night at the Rusthall Club saw Dan, Scott, Chris and John perform a 40-minute Armando. I introduced the evening explaining that the purpose of Claqueur Club Night is to preview new improvisation formats, and to give the players a chance to try new techniques; it also allows the audience to learn something more about how Impro works and feedback their thoughts on the show. The players got their first suggestion from the audience, which was ‘Crocodile’. Chris stepped forward with a short monologue on the theme and talked about the movie Lake Placid that revolves around a giant, 30-foot-long man-eating crocodile which terrorises the fictional Lake and follows the dysfunctional group who attempt to capture the creature. John confessed to his obsession with Elton John and ‘Crocodile Rock‘. Scott kicked off the first scene about an obsessive Elton fan secretly dressing up and getting caught out by his wife (John) who come home early from work. Dan and Chris appeared at various points with strange deliveries including a box containing the Beckhams. There was a scene about a movie director and his screenwriters attempting to come up with an idea for plot for a movie. Another where John came into a shop to buy a pair of crocs and Dan and the salesman slowly morphing into a psychiatrist showed concern about what must have gone wrong in John’s life that he should be buying crocs. John eventually broke down about his unhappy marriage and miserable life. A longer scene followed with Scott as an American newsvendor who gets taken on a trip into the swamps to catch a man-eating crocodile, and Chris getting his leg chewed off. They made great use here of two ‘swing doors’ that enabled Scott to play two stories in parallel. A couple of other scenes about flushing a baby pet croc down the toilet; and feeding a crocodile marshmallows, before they asked the audience for a second suggestion.
The word ‘Blossom’ inspired John to tell us about his allergies and a horrendously vivid story about having his nose waxed in a Turkish Barber shop – an operation that did nothing for his allergy. Chris told us about his encounter with a vicious horse called ‘Blossom’. The Impro started in a Turkish barber where Chris endured an increasingly terrifying series of treatments. John then appeared as a pregnant woman coming to the doctor for a scan, Dan brilliantly becoming the image of the baby on the scanner screen. It ended with the shocking discovery that the baby was ‘ginger’. Next Dan became a father harangued by his demanding son (John) who wanted a horse for his birthday. Scott as the incompetent horse salesman went through a series of horses before settling on the vicious ‘Blossom’ enthusiastically played by Chris. The horse terrified everyone until John appeared to claim his present and scared the life out of Blossom.
The show flowed really well and the audience clearly enjoy it. Interestedly some areas where the players thought they were floundering, many of the audience thought were ‘memorable’. There is something about experiencing the peaks and troughs that you get in impro that remind the audience it’s ‘all made up’. When the risks are revealed it gets exciting, and I am suspicious of any show that doesn’t have downswings. Audiences don’t mind characters suffering, but the majority don’t want to see players suffer; but if players accept moments of failure with grace they are loved for it. That said there weren’t too many dips this evening and some real magical moments. Amando is a tough game that seeks to find comedy – it’s really setting yourself up and takes some courage; it’s not easy. Martin filmed the evening (See below) so we get the chance to watch the show and examine what when right, or wrong; that together with the audience’s feedback will help us develop even better shows. All in all the evening proves that Club Nights are rewarding all round. Well-done Guys.
The next Club Nights in Tuesday 29 May. The players will be Jon Paul and Martin. We will be performing ‘A Slice of Life’ a 40 minute unscripted play. It’s a very pure form of improvisation with no real ground rules, more a concept – we imagine we are stepping into a story that is already happening, we don’t know what it is, we don’t know who we are or who the others are, it’s more about discovery than invention, It may be funny, it may not. It’s a play that grows moment by moment, what will happen is as much a mystery to the players as is it to the audience. Do come along, we’d love to know what you think. Is it an idea that has legs? ‘A Slice of Life’. (See more in the next blog)