I’ve made no secret of the fact that I love Mischief Theatre – I’ve seen The Play That Goes Wrong in the West End and on tour, and I’ve seen The Comedy About A Bank Robbery twice in the West End. Unfortunately I missed out on their latest show when it had a brief run at the Arts Theatre over Christmas, but I was able to catch Mischief Movie Night at the Curve Theatre last night.
Taking it back to their roots, Mischief Movie Night is an improvised show, taking on audience suggestions to build the story through the course of the show (similar to Murder She Didn’t Write, which I absolutely adored). Using the audience’s help, the first performance in its Leicester run was entitled Mars Actually – a sci-fi/rom-com set on Mars, where a group of scientists are researching the native dinosaurs, along with trying to find love. Dave Hearn took on the lead role as Alex Stevens (Stevenson? There was a little bit of confusion here), the lead scientist on the mission. After introducing his assistant, Stephanie (Ellie Morris) to Frank Dinosaur (Henry Lewis), the first dinosaur to evolve into a human, they begin to hit it off. Through musical numbers, we discover that Frank isn’t quite what he says he is.
There was too much to talk about in too much detail, plus I don’t want to make you fall in love with the show as they’ll never perform it again. You can return again and again, and see a brand new show each time. But my stand-out moments included Charlie Russell’s brachiosaurus, the music puns (Oh, flute off!), the foreign film element and Carl (Joshua Elliot) and Alex’s duet.
Now I can’t comment on the structure of every performance, but the gist that I got from the particular show I caught was that Jonathan Sayer (one of the founding members of Mischief Theatre) acts as MC whilst the rest of the cast act out the scenes, guided by Sayer. He literally holds a remote control and pauses the scenes – often at very inappropriate times – in order to clarify areas of confusion (or at least force the cast to) and upping the stakes of the performance. The rewinding and replaying of certain scenes was brilliant, and the audience suggestion of slow-motion was fantastic!
Whilst it wasn’t a masterful as their scripted shows, it was an entertaining way to spend an hour and I would definitely revisit their improvised comedy again. It’s not the most PG of shows and it’s probably not a good idea to take anybody easily offended or embarrassed, but I can’t think of many people who wouldn’t enjoy the home-made movie.
Mischief Movie Night is playing at the Curve Theatre until 16th June, before continuing its UK tour.