Are you living in Coventry and looking to explore the culture of the city? Or are you a fan of improvised theatre and comedy who has just moved to the area? Either way, here’s a quick overview of all the improv goings-on in the city.
On the second Friday of every month, Coventry Improv put on a pay-what-you-want show at Esquires Coffee at the Transport Museum. This is a popular family-friendly show which raises money for local charities. The format is just what you would expect from a comedy improv show, with lots of short sketches using suggestions called out from the audience to inspire the action. I previously described this as “delightful” and “a show suitable for all ages and tastes”. If you want to know more you can read my full review here.
During term time, further entertainment is supplied by Warwick Improv. This group, made up of students from Warwick University, create hour-long plays with an emphasis on drama and character-based humour. They frequently perform themed shows, most recently a Christmas special and an all-female show for International Women’s Day. Audiences have described their shows as “poignant and funny”, “truly memorable and engaging” and “the perfect mix of comedy and heart”. You can read a summary of all audience reviews here.
Also based at Warwick University, The Improv Musical create a one-act musical from scratch each time they take to the stage. No topic is off-limits as the basis for their off the cuff song and dance shows, with previous performances ranging from “The Wild West End” to “Embarrassing Bodies: The Musical”. Praised by Broadway Baby as “a fantastical, hilarious, stuffed-full 60 minutes” which “never failed to amaze”, this really is something special. Find the full Broadway Baby review, plus what everybody else has been saying, by reading the overview here.
The Warwick Arts Centre is a regular stop for national comedy tours. Ross Noble, Adam Riches, The Noise Next Door and Abandoman have all visited in recent years, each one using improv as a key element in their routines to sell-out audiences. If you want to see the best in the business, this is the place to go.
Improv acts also make up a large part of the Coventry Comedy Festival. For 10 days in May the city welcomes internationally renowned comedians performing alongside top drawer local talent. At the first festival there were over a dozen improvised shows, including acts from Glasgow, Leeds and London. A full list of shows can be found here. Many of the shows came from closer to home, giving locals a chance to see Midlands acts without having to travel. Equally, events like this allow the performers to come together and show what the artform is really capable of, all of which helps to build the improv scene in Coventry.