Sofya Grebenkina

at 10:44 on 24th Jan 2015

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Shellshock!’s first Improvised Comedy show of 2015, posited itself as an alternative form of entertainment within the Durham performance scene. There were to be no scripts, and therefore an exciting element of utter spontaneity; each show in their ongoing repertoire would be a unique affair. The performers themselves were six students, part of a crew of 30-40 regular performers on rotation every two weeks, and although they each varied in the level of expertise which they brought to the stage, they managed to compensate for it with their enthusiasm and energy.

The structure of the show was a series of ‘games’, the rules of which, ever-changing, kept the audience entertained by the sheer variety of content. Some of the ‘games’ bore a strong resemblance to ones frequently experienced in other comedy shows, or comedic entertainment. This was the satirisation of popular literature or television; these skits, through good judgement, were played out in the beginning of the night, so as to give the audience some time to grow comfortable with the performers, and even the idea of such a show itself. However this in no way made them trite; the host after eliciting a few prompts from the audience, acquired enough creative potential to make a skit on a show titled 'Date My Pet', or to imagine how J.K. Rowling could incorporate the phrase 'stripy pineapple' into her novels, and how this interpretation would differ from that found in a washing machine instruction manual.

What really made this event stand out was the intimacy which the performers were able to achieve with the audience through their initiative and general good will. After an initial warm-up, consisting of shouting out a plethora of random words, the show was ready to really commence. Although the performance did not entirely hinge on audience participation, it was an important element, and this requirement for constant participation most definitely added to the level of engagement from the audience. Perhaps the skits which worked the best were those which brought members from the audience directly onto the stage. For their penultimate sketch, two members of the troupe asked two members of the audience to use them as puppets, while they, only being responsible for their speech, would act out a scene in a nightclub. The wit may not have been Shakespearian, the conversation hinging on the offer of an apple, yet the slapstick nature of the action left many in fits of laughter. Such was the nature of this entire evening. It was a light-hearted affair; the humour, despite never managing to reach high comedy, was able to resonate, providing overall a delightful evening of entertainment.

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