Baron Sternlook are back. This Birmingham-based musical group have several years of experience, including two runs at the Edinburgh Fringe, but until recently have been on hiatus. Their return means Midlands audiences can now see them create a fun one hour show filled with drama, comedy & music.
In this performance, the audience picked the title to be “Imperialism in Venice”. The scene was set by an opening number featuring a gaggle on gondoliers singing about their love of the water, and then we met an American couple on a marriage-strengthening holiday in Italy, the husband having planned every last detail while the wife searched for a bit more excitement (“Holiday by spreadsheet”). This excitement came from several sources – an Italian lothario intent on capturing an American, the rise and fall of the gondoliering empire, and a tourist office staffed by a woman from Dudley. The show included a range of songs in various styles, including one whose title was dictated by the audience in advance (“There’s always time to pee”), and one performer singing both halves of a duet.
The group are particularly strong at adding humour to each scene in a way that doesn’t overpower the action. In this performance there was a chance to enjoy each performer struggling to add authentic Venetian details to the show, typified by the street seller hawking berets, Big Bens and Taj Mahals. And of course there was a satisfying reference to Birmingham having more miles of canal than the Italian city. My favourite moment was the moral at the end of the story, where the tourism worker that learned that being Italian isn’t about where you are born or what language you speak, it’s about loving a place and choosing to call it home. Funny and heartwarming. A talented bunch.
Baron Sternlook’s Improvised Musical perform in and around Birmingham, including the Birmingham Improv Festival in October.