Improvised Tragedy

Thu 23rd February 2012


Danielle Masterton

at 23:24 on 23rd Feb 2012



Presented with a range of traditional tragic tales, a randomly selected audience member chose “star-crossed lovers” and so began The Improvised Tragedy, a rather eccentric addition to this year’s Durham Drama Festival. A loosely woven plot unravelled over 50 minutes of astounding awkwardness. From a Traffic Wardon to a Panda Sex Therapist, along with Dave The Fireman, a shy florist and a dyslexic palaeontologist (Can you spell that please?), came a story of a legendary 1998 Honda and some rightly nervous pandas. As a fellow Honda driver myself, this legend provided a very funny narrative thread to the plot, in particular when the fuzzy dice (the epicentre of the Honda) began to assume a euphemism for something else entirely!

Perhaps in a brilliant parody of the trials and tribulations of lives and loves, the clumsiness of certain scenes was unshakeable. Nonetheless, the sympathetic crowd guffawed approvingly and the appealing realist humour of the actors drew more and more laughs as the production went on. Dave The Fireman was a standout performance, showing a clear aptitude for improv comedy. Likewise, the understated acting of the witty Panda Sex Therapist was convincing and consistent, at one point cleverly using the audience as the pandas themselves!

A trail of panda bones finally led to a highly alternative film festival where the characters at last confronted the legendary yellow Honda. Accidental arson brought shame on Dave The Fireman who’s only hope had ever been to put out fires, not to start them. But with the end of the Honda came the resolution of the love triangle which had been somewhat constructed over the play.

I’m not sure that Shakespeare would be too happy to have his star-crossed lovers compared to this tale but the cast put on an honourable production in a challenging context. Tragic? Yes. But a tragedy? I’m not so sure.


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