Soothplayers Present the Completely Improvised Works of Shakespeare

By Lisa Clark Soothplayers

The Soothplayers have really set themselves a ridiculously arduous task. To create a Shakespearean play on the spot in front of an audience for our pleasure and pain, but then, improvisers love a challenge. They’re clearly nuts and I love nuts.

There are no ‘names’ in this comedy troupe, they are a bunch of fresh faced performers keen to entertain but sharing an hour with them you certainly get to know them and some of their amazing skills. The important skills these improvisers possess include; creating interesting characters, comic timing, understanding how stories work and the ability to remember to stay in the Sixteenth Century (there was a mention of chocolate cake but I think they got away with it.)

Tonight’s story was in a Midsummer Night’s Dreamy style involving a grouchy King (Ryan Patterson in a standout performance), his tapestry weaving daughter (Cat Commander), a couple of silly faeries called Pickleblossom and Juicefairy (Imogen Palmer and Charlotte Salusinszki), and a whole host of villagers who perform a play within a play in order to convince the King to give them a regular holiday. It had been inspired by an audience member’s suggestion of ‘A holiday tomorrow’. The performance is accompanied by minstrel Caleb Garfinkel doing a fine job on the mandolin and supporting the odd song that pops up unexpectedly.

I’ve always wondered about how much preparation goes into improvisation, do they decide beforehand what style it’s going to be in or make up some jokes to throw in? Well there certainly seems to be some sort of structure which may or may not have been previously worked out. Scenes are created by performers in pairs to start with, then a scene with the whole cast and so on. One thing is for sure, there is no conferring once the performance has begun. The players stay on stage throughout, with those not taking parts in scenes moving to the side to watch on silently.

Impro has always terrified me somewhat, I cringe at those awkward moments as the performers scrabble to put words together that will further the scene. Others might get off on those thrills, the performers certainly seem to. It threatened to go off the rails with complications at one point but the performers picked it up and took it into a more unexpected and interesting direction. They know each other’s capabilities and have learned to put their trust in one another.

No show will be the same, so your experience is bound to be different to mine, but these are certainly a band of merrie players you can put your trust in for a fun night of storytelling and making stuffe up.

The Soothplayers are performing at THE IMPROV CONSPIRACY THEATRE til Oct 3