In Stitches Comedy Improv – Camden Fringe, Hen and Chickens

Reviewer: Mike Wells

Making their professional debut, In Stitches Theatre company present comedy improv theatre at the Hen and Chickens for two nights during the Camden Fringe. Featuring a cast of eight Rose Bruford graduates, they perform several different improv games using cues from the audience as their inspiration.

Improvised comedy carries with it a risk, but should it come off, the audience bears witness to a truly unique show that’ll never be repeated. This performance (their last of the fringe season) is a triumph, as the company takes what the audience offers them and runs with it.

Of course, some scenes are funnier than others, one of which, a “Shrinking Scene” is particularly good. Here, characters play a single improvised scene multiple times with an actor being eliminated each time, eventually leading to one actor playing every part. This game is an excellent example of how-to improv and the actor we were left with on this occasion was excellent.

Another audience favourite is a game of “Batchelor”. Here, three contestants vie for the affection of the bachelor, but each of them has a secret affliction (decided by the audience) which he must identify to leave with a date. Tonight, our bachelor didn’t find love, but it wasn’t for lack of trying and it was a terrific example of dramatic irony done well.

In fact, every scene is good except for the “Translator” game. In this scene two characters are having an argument about something (of the audiences choosing) but both speak different types of gibberish, which neither they, nor the audience can understand. Fortunately, we have a translator who steps in to explain what’s going on. Of all the types of scenes to play this is possibly the hardest, and certainly the most exposing. The translator must think on their feet and manage the scene, and it can be fantastic, but only if they really work with the other two characters – otherwise the danger is they end up making the scene all about them, and unless they’re excellent comedians that rarely works. On this occasion it doesn’t quite land and at times feels a little contrived.

This said, for only one scene to not work, out of the half a dozen they put on is a pretty good ratio and is testament to the company. It’s difficult to find good improvisers but they’ve managed to find several, and it bodes well for the future.

While they have come to the end of their run in the Hen and Chickens, they will be performing for a couple of nights at the Etcetera Theatre in November, so if you fancy some light-hearted, never-to-be-seen-again fun, give it a go.

Reviewed on 5 August 2022 

The Camden Fringe runs from 1-28 August 2022

The Reviews Hub Score

Excellent improv

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The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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