Let me set the scene, two teams of improvising comedians are competing against each other, to win the approval of the audience. These comedians certainly have true pride on their line, but they don’t care what challenges they have to endure, as long as they finish victorious.
I was not sure what to expect from BattleActs!, but right from his introduction, the host (a dapper looking Christopher Eastwood wearing a suit and bowtie) had the enthusiasm of about ten children running towards a bouncy castle, which put the audience at ease and set the mood for the show. Describing the Show as a ‘skeleton with no muscle or bone’, Eastwood informed us of the concept of BattleActs!. We as an audience, would be asked to contribute ideas to the comedic challenges that would be set to the two teams, one red and one blue, who were to shortly appear. These contributions consisted of the audience just simply shouting them out the first thing that came to mind. The winning team of each challenge would receive points that would be written on an old fashioned chalk board. I got the feeling that even though the two teams were pitted against each other it was purely for comedic purposes rather than any real rivalry.
The red and blue teams consisted of Brendan Murphy, Phil Mann and Emily Lloyd Saini, Oliver Izod, only having two each definitely adds more pressure to the show but in a positive way, as there are less ideas and time to think or rely on another teammate. The first challenge showed the comedians undertaking the ‘Novel’ game where they had to each say a line each (or sometimes just a word) of a novel they were composing spontaneously, to a word an audience member had given them, the word being conquering. With the host pointing sometimes randomly at each member to say their next installment of the story, even in this first game Izod really shone, his comedic style and presence having Shakespearean undertones, that made him quite unique! As the challenges progressed the personalities of each comedian became more apparent, with such sparse staging they were very exposed and the 185 challenge was a great example. The game was inspired by random groups of people or animals thrown up by the audience, such as teachers and koalas, and consisted of ‘185 walked into a bar’ jokes. Although Murphy was not perhaps as quick on his feet as perhaps Lloyd Saini with the stand-up jokes, he has great deliverance with words and facial expressions that have the ability to make you laugh along with him.
Although BattleActs was very funny, I also found it refreshing and gripping, almost like watching a game show as the comedians were under pressure opposed to a script or stand up where they have devised their own material. Each team member showed their pedigree as a comedian and individual styles that make them great ambassadors of British Comedy. Improvised Comedy is definitely a genre I would like to watch more of in the future, and BattleActs! was a great introduction to it.
By Francesca Mepham
BattleActs! is an award-winning, multi-five star late-night comedy party show that has performed to rave reviews around the country. The show sees two teams of fearless improvisers pitched against each other by a ball-busting compere. Each team attempts to prove their worth and battle it out for the ultimate prize: the audience’s respect! A high-octane mix of seemingly impossible challenges, and incredible physicality; such as Boris (a nine-foot invisible giant who tortures murder suspects), improvised Shakespearean sonnets, and Story Die (where famous works of literature are mercilessly reinvented at incredible speed). No two shows are the same, with forfeits, (which can see you dancing on live mouse traps) and themed nights to keep everyone on their toes!
Monday 23rd February 2015