Reviewer: Carol Lovatt
Alan Ayckbourn’s The Karaoke Theatre Company are something completely different and the world premiere of their eclectic and riotously funny show is currently being performed at the New Vic Theatre in Staffordshire. To say it is a ‘live’ production where anything can happen is apt in the extreme. It is a feast of innovation, creative licence and sublime shenanigans which delight and intrigue the audience from start to finish. The idea that the production is determined by those watching it sounds quite anarchic and somewhat haphazard but in reality, it leads to a night of exquisite theatre which is fresh and continually engaging. In fact, an evening of pure delight!
The company consists of 6 key individuals: Karen Drake, Alyssia Cook, Rufus Wellington, Anna Raleigh and Oliver Nelson who are all the acting part and then Edie Hardy, who is the ‘on set’ stage manager, and together, they literally create magic. Born out of a variety of original magic and improvisation shows plus other genres of performance, and initially known as Frenzied Flywheel, the Karaoke Theatre Company has a great heritage of inventive and innovative material to draw on and manipulate and coupled with a repertoire of competent and wildly enthusiastic talent, the end result creates a concoction of theatrical styles which ensure that there is plenty of dramatic suspense and hilarious comedy to entertain the masses.
This world premiere offering consists of four short plays: The Plumber, The Sister, Whodunnit?, and Horror Story, plus a surprise magical ending. All the actors, and Hardy, plus the audience, have their parts to play and how they play them determines how the production develops. It sounds strange but it’s actually loads of fun and very refreshing. Improvisation is an exciting form of drama with a fast and sometimes manic pace, and it creates a rather unique theatre experiencebecause no two shows can possibly be the same. It is also true to say that the New Vic audience love a challenge and volunteer participants were abundant on the night and with direction from the cast, they ensured some hilarious interpretations of the various plays which included a farce, a costume comedy, a gothic horror and a very funny subtitled ‘foreign’ drama. The energy of the company is astounding as they direct, enact and execute the raft of narrative and organisational details with precision and enthusiasm and the result is nothing short of outstanding theatre.
The Karaoke Theatre Company has produced a real celebration of theatrical innovation. They are extremely inventive and versatile. An evening of pure unbridled entertainment and joy awaits theatre goers who may not be acquainted with such diverse and creative interpretations but who once immersed in the experience of truly ‘live’ theatre will probably be clambering for more. This is a gem of a show and one definitely worth seeing.
Reviewed on Friday 14th October 2016 | Image: Tony Bartholomew