You know those people who are so very tired but never seem too tired to tell you and everyone else how tired they are? The Jack Left Town team don’t fall into that category, but they were repeatedly telling the audience at the Rosemary Branch Theatre that they’ve been “doing this for three and a half years”, which is, to be fair, longer than many people have been doing the same show. Except ‘this’ being improvisation, it never is the same show twice. I’m happy to take them at their word that what was witnessed at the performance I attended has never been before and will never be done again – a different improv company, a few years ago, even invited reviewers to both a matinee and an evening performance on the same day to demonstrate how different each show really is.
There are improv productions with greater amounts of audience participation than this one (make of that what you will), with frequent interruptions and key plot decisions made by a show of hands after the audience is given two or three possible outcomes. Here, though, we were given the interval to think of an album title for a band called Jack Left Town, and before that, most of the ‘work’ was really done by selecting a vinyl record from a seemingly random collection, and then selecting a track from that record, which would form the title of a scene to be performed.
The support act, who performed the short scenes in the first half, consisted of (in no particular order) Katharine Bennett-Fox, Alice Rose Barr, Kerry Gilbert, Kathryn Bond and Bryony Byrne. While not entirely devoid of stereotypes, such as people of pensionable age functioning with reduced mental capacity and not being able to hear properly, the laughs came thick and fast. The standout scenes for me were the completely wordless ‘Only Fools Rush In’, and another called ‘Nightflight To Venus’ (Boney M., 1978 – yes, I looked that up afterwards), in which a series of misunderstandings on the captain’s part as well as those of at least one of her passengers had hilarious results.
In the second half, Scott Oswald, Angus Dunican, David Simpson and Chazz Redhead took as their story headline ‘Sausage Rolls’, after an audience member’s suggestion for an album title – fortunately or unfortunately, whether the said sausage rolls were vegan or not wasn’t specified. But the story was developed well enough (though precisely where sausage rolls come into a ‘festival’ themed around ‘pies and beans’ is anyone’s guess). I have to say I rather liked how the story unfolded without further suggestions being collated from the audience. Uninterrupted, scene after scene flowed well and at a brisk pace – the rise and fall of Jack Left Town, a rock band who apparently made forays into drum and bass.
Everyone certainly worked hard to pull off engaging and enthusiastic performances, and it’s always a good thing to see people evidently enjoying themselves on stage. A wide variety of characters, complete with different regional accents and mannerisms were witnessed throughout the evening – too many to count – making this a live experience worth indulging.
Review by Chris Omaweng
No instruments. No singing. No rehearsals. Jack Left Town was the greatest band in the world. The only problem is that it never existed.
A hilarious improvised rockumentary in the spirit of Spinal Tap, performed anew each month in response to an album name suggestion from the audience. Featuring incredible support acts from London’s improv scene.
Scott, David, Angus and Chazz are Jack Left Town, the toast of the London improv scene. From audience suggestions, they tell the (frequently baffling) tale of the rise, fall and further adventures of the ‘greatest and that never was’…the titular Jack Left Town. “Boundless enthusiasm, a strong absurdity curve and sick air guitar”
JACK LEFT TOWN: THE IMPROVISED ROCKUMENTARY
Wednesday 5th February 2020