The Best Book I Never Wrote, I wish it had been! A trip to the theatre for me usually involves a few sniggers and embarrassing yawns as we head towards the 2 hour mark. But this was not an average theatre experience. I sat in my seat like any other show and arrived at the Nottingham New Theatre at the usual time but Improv’s The Best Book I Never Wrote was unlike any other play I have seen. The main reason for this was that it was improvised; a spontaneous performance that never will be seen by anyone other than the audience I was sat with. I felt a certain amount of exclusivity that I found only added to the excitement and suspense.
My past experiences of improvised comedy have been entertaining but often let down by awkward silences from a confused audience. No such problems here! Nottingham University’s Improv Society have brought us a show that is both laughable and intriguing, successfully showcasing their talent in spontaneity while avoiding those awkward silences I was secretly dreading.
Devoid of too many elaborate props and distracting music of last year’s performance, Improv has brought us a play that is minimalist in its approach. They’ve limited the cast to black outfits and a blank set to work with which only helps focus the drama on character. It works well; as a member of the audience I was drawn to the talent of each individual as they brought out what improvisation should be all about – comedy. In particular, I was impressed at the overall confidence of these students.
Of course each night has been different as the narrative starts from the audience’s suggestions. Friday night unfolded into a murderous thriller between two friends, intertwined with pink foxes and a comical ‘Captain Neckbeard’. However my favourite of the night had to be Alex Southern’s performance as “John Smith… Justice Department”. Helped along by direction from narrator and director Rebecca Ellis, this was a truly hilarious story.
At 1 hour long, this play kept my attention throughout and their “no rules, no limits” remained true with some surprising results. Who would’ve expected that a trip to Argos could result in mass murder? There are so many twists and turns in this production that I would recommend it to all. Whatever your comedic preference, the adaptability of this performance ensures there is a laugh out loud moment for every member of the audience. Well done Improv Society! You are showcasing all the very many talents the University of Nottingham has to offer. Good luck in Edinburgh!