A few weeks ago something popped up in my twitter feed that caught my attention. I follow @MrDavidReed on twitter and he posted that he’d be performing at Criminal Improv along side Miles Jupp. Seeing as this is just down the road from me, I thought I’d go down and see it.
Being in That London, at any time you are never less than 6 feet from an Improv group. This one wasn’t my closest but was walking distance from the office and also an nice easy walk home. There was little excuse not to go.
On arrival they had a great selection of smaller brewery beers. There weren’t a million members of staff on the bar and the guy who took my order walked off half way handing my order over to the remaining barstaff who was already in the middle of serving someone. It wasn’t all bad as I was also having dinner there. Monday Night is Burger Night and all the burgers on the menu were £5. I had the cheeseburger with a side of buttermilk fried chicken. The burger was cooked medium-rare and the fried chicken was lovely.
With 5 minutes before curtains up time, I headed upstairs and after having the booking checked (while also being given a loyaly card), I managed to grab a seat on the front row. It was almost completely empty in the front row which was strange as an Improv Murder Mystery isn’t going to be the place where comedians try out their ‘so what do you do?/where are you from?’ patter.
The lights dimmed and the two hosts took to the stage. @OhHiRalphJones & @joelgatehouse were there to introduce the night and also to get some ideas from the audience on the background of Lady Davenport, whose timely dimise (is ’30 years previous’ still timely?) was going to be investigated. She was murdered by a bowling ball, had a career as a flautist, and in her spare time enjoyed mole-hunting (I think – however this turned out to be just hanging about a mole-populated area). She was wearing a ballgown when she died.
Ralph & Joel invited the cast to the stage where 3 cards were offered and the non-detective players found out who was innocent and who was guilty. The compares left the stage and the action began.
David Reed – Mr. Bowling Alley, Viola Player, Lady Davenport
Miles Jupp – Eric (the conductor), Maude (Hot drink loving wife of Sam), Tramp who died, Ian Anderson (from Jethro Tull)
Sylvia Bishop – Sam (Owner of the Mole Collective and loving husband of Maude), Exceedingly high countered shop owner, Cello Player)
Joseph Morpurgo – The Detective Wilhelm.
What followed was an excellent story about how Lady Davenport died and how the characters were involved. We learnt about nacho cheese, we watched a man play a flute from both ends, a lady play a flute without holding it to her lips, detailed descriptions of how games of bowling went for Lady Davenport (STRIKE! STRIKE! STRIKE! HALF-STRIKE! STRIKE! STRIKE! STRIKE! STRIKE! STRIKE! and for the tenth frame STRIKE!……which gave another two bowls which went STRIKE! STRIKE!), Coffee Shops with unreasonably high counters, Maude offering hot drinks at all times – although we were lucky to be there during the installation of a soda-stream, and learning about the pricing structure of the Bowling Alley (£1 bowling during lunch, but £14000 after 3pm).
The best part was the set-up of Miles Jupp having to sing a song at a funeral. What would be more appropriate than a splendid rendition of ‘Three Lions’. Nothing. Nothing at All.
— Twon (@TwonRue) February 27, 2017
The whole show was ace from start to finish. During the big reveal/accusation at the end there was a little bit of mis-direction when a chair was accused of being the murderer….after-all a chair has 4 legs, the SAME number of legs as a bowling ball has holes! 😀
If you are based in London and fancy attending then Criminal Improv is held at The Millers on the last Monday of the month. Tickets were a reasonable price (£8) and I really do recommend it. The team do an excellent job and its good to finally see some long-form improvisation as before now I’d only seen the short-form of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Comedy Store Players, The Phil Jupitus And Friends : Improv Show and Second City. I’m even thinking of attending something like Austentatious or other performances similar to this.
Do you have a recommendation for some long-form improv I should attend? Or maybe some short-form stuff I’ll really enjoy? Let me know in the comments below. If its based in London then there is a good chance I’ll go see it.