Burton Taylor Theatre, till Friday 4th April
Oxford ImPro’s website spurns the comparison to Whose Line is it, Anyway?, but the similarities are clear enough: one performer stands behind another manipulating props on a table while the other improvises an explanation of his latest invention; the improvisers try to speak in pairs or en masse in a single voice; they are given silly scenarios and invited to entertain. The only discernable difference was the absence of any competitive element – no having to answer questions and thereby work out who you are, or what bizarre affliction you suffer from. If you like the show, you’ll love the ImProfessors.
The show is very funny, hilarious at times – but not everyone in the cast had the same grasp of what makes people laugh, how a joke works, how to pick up on partners’ cues and take them in an amusing direction. While a few of the performances positively sparkled, a couple were noticeably more leaden. This is surely because the show immediately begins as comedy, not drama: we expect it to be consistently funny, but it’s not. Those bits which aren’t are also not good drama, and I’m still none the wiser as to what improvised drama, rather than improvised comedy, would really look like. If there really is a distinction, it needs clarifying; if not, the cast needs to be consistently funny.
For the time being, however, The ImProfessors is an entertaining, energetic show with guaranteed originality every night. I look forward to seeing more from Oxford ImPro in the future.