To start this review I am going to give praise where praise is due. It must be extremely difficult to put on a digital show anyway which is only exaggerated for an improvised show so the team behind ‘Improva-zoom-ga’ deserve the highest praise purely based on this fact. Additionally, the cast and crew are dealing with the cancellation of the Edinburgh Fringe (where they usually perform this show) which is obviously devastating for the performing arts industry in general but it is fantastic that this company still have the opportunity to showcase their skill albeit in a different form than usual but still a chance to do what they love.
I have to admit that walking into the show (or should that be zooming in) I had no idea what to expect but I quickly realised this is an improvised performance of the watch this improv troupe. The last improv performance I watched was The Showstoppers on the west end and so I was excited to see what wild direction this performance could take. The show worked by people suggesting objects, stories and genres (like your typical improv show does) but with people giving their suggestions in chat function on Zoom. This was a great way to make the audience feel included and also stick to the previous experiences people have of shows of this nature. There were two short improvised sketches that served as an almost introduction to each performer which is fantastic as it allowed the viewers to become familiar with the performance styles of each of the performers which could potentially influence their suggestions later in the show. My personal favourite sketches were performed by Joshua and Laura who did a hilarious spoof of a YouTube unboxing video revolving around a pair of knickers. This was an incredible performance and both performers are clearly very talented. They managed to discussed politics (specifically the rumours about censorship and such in Russia) in a hilarious manner which maintaining a fun and infectious energy. Another standout performer for me was Laura Walsh who is also a very talented performer and was full of energy too. What was truly clever about this show was that as performers were being ‘brought to the stage’ their video appeared on the screen which was great as it forced the attention onto the performers but it was unusual and after a while, it did become tiresome especially when all performers were involved.
The main performance of this show which, involved all the performers, was totally created by the audience. It ended up that the story was about a Holliday romance set in a custard cream factory called ‘Love takes the biscuit’ which is brilliant and the performers made it work. In this performance, A stand out was an actress called Chloe who took on the strange role of Mrs Custard and made it work. Her use of voice and facial express really made the character stand out and delivered many comedic scenes. The included an option for a select few people in the audience to have a buzzer that when used certain things would happen such as slow-motion, kiss/slap or an Oscar speech (excellently performed by Joshua) which was a brilliant inclusion that again helped the audience feel fully included.
Overall, Improva-zoom-ga was an entertaining improvised show that had me laughing throughout and truly showed how digital media can be used in theatre. I would rate this production 3.5 stars out of 5 and would encourage people who frequent the fringe festival to check them out when they are opened up again!