There were 275 improv shows in the Midlands during 2017. That’s five shows a week across Birmingham, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry & Northampton. Hidden away in small theatres and rooms above pubs across the country, there are great nights of entertainment all around you if you know where to look.
The highlight of 2017 was the Birmingham Improv Festival. Filling an entire week in October, it featured 24 different groups from across the country performing to packed houses every night in the Blue Orange Theatre. I loved seeing so many great shows on my doorstep and discussing them afterwards with fellow audience members & the performers themselves. Click here for a quick review of every show.
Despite seeing most of the shows at the Festival I only found the time to write a full review for one of them. Ten Thousand Million Love Stories provided “an intimate and honest portrayal of the many sides of love”. It’s those quiet emotional moments which stay with me, despite having a bigger reaction during the show to the joyful silly bits and the impressive skills displayed by Heather & Jules.
Other shows I reviewed in 2017:
- The Kneejerks – “A moment of joy in every scene. Catch them if you can.”
- Dummy – “Intensely rewarding…a great show”
- Jumprov – “Very relaxed and confident together, a fine combination”
- Baron Sternlook – “Funny and heartwarming. A talented bunch.”
Several local groups took their show on the road during 2017. The biggest splash was made by LoveHard, a duo who perform mostly scripted theatre shows with room in each performance for moments of improvised fun. Broadway Baby praised them as “unparalleled in comedy writing and delivery” and Voice magazine said they were “an unforgettable Fringe experience”. Twitter fans called them “simply hilarious”, “brilliantly entertaining” and “tear-jerkingly funny”. You can read the full collection of audience reviews here.
Other shows that went on tour and got big audience reactions in 2017:
- Jumprov – “Impressive” / “Quick-witted” / “Definitely recommend”
- Improvabunga – “Highly entertaining” / “Easy to recommend” / “Fantastic”
- The Improv Musical – “Hilarious” / “Guaranteed entertainment” / “Brilliant”
My most popular blogpost this year wasn’t about a local group or event. It was a more general essay about how much more there is to improv than quickfire gags. Improv does this well, but if that’s not your thing you probably think improv isn’t for you. Yet improv can do all sorts of comedy, and indeed all sorts of theatre. There is something for everyone in an artform that melds itself to change with every audience. Yes, there really is more to improv than “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”.