Thursday 25 January 2018

IMPRO Amsterdam 2018 - Opening night

Festivals should begin with a bang. That is unless you running The International Festival of Slow Fades, or Disappointed! The Festival for Mismanaged Expectations. (Both of which are great festivals, but I’ll discuss them another time I absolutely promise. Honest.) But this festival went for the tradition of bangular openings.

This show is the first chance for the general public to really see the ensemble cast. For this first show, everyone performed in their original teams. Each team has a show of their own later in the week. Except the Dutch who were only assembled as a team for this festival and are merely along for the ride. It's a kind of taster for the whole week.

(Also there is another team with a main-stage show that is not part of the ensemble, but I won’t mention that now to keep from confusing you. It’s Dad’s Garage.)

Each team showed off a bit of their style and were then given a second challenge to pay homage to another team, which got Americans being Australians, Australians being Dutch and the Dutch rapping. What could possibly go wrong?


The second half of the show was given over to Project2 an English duo who improvise in the style of science fiction. It is fair to say they kicked the ball straight out of the stratosphere. A lot of improvised science fiction is goofy, soulless, gadget-obsessed parody. (Actually a fair few movies are too.) Katie and Chris (who are the current incarnation of Project2) are doing this out of love and respect. They know their science fiction. They might mock it, but they do it with love. They can find the funny, but they are not afraid to be truthful and their commitment cannot be questioned. The stories they weave and eventually manage to tie together contain so much human truth, that the end was a veritable burst of joy.

And all this with a superbly atmospheric live soundtrack by one half of noughties electronica duo Lemon Jelly.
Zombie vs Sentry Drone

Night at the Museum of Stories
After most of the shows this week, there is a choice of 2 late night shows. Firstly, there were Brazilian living statues with Museum of Stories. Yes those actual living statues you find in most big cities on the streets near the most touristy of spots were brought into theatres to be both statues and actors in scenes. Any improviser who has ever had to try and be still on stage for more than 1 minute can learn a lot from these guys.

And secondly there was some “playback theatre” from local group, Wordt Vervolgd (which means To Be Continued). Playback theatre is where the audience tells their stories and these are then recreated or interpreted on stage for fun or therapy.

In all a great official first night. Well up there with the opening night of Bangfest IV: The Bangening.

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