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Birmingham Improv Festival 2017

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by dpm (subscribe)
dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
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Quick fire comedy on tap
Now in its second year, Birmingham Improv Festival has doubled in size to become a week packed full of comedy. And if the launch night is anything to go by, there are plenty of treats up its sleeve for the days to come.

Opening the festival were Birmingham's first black, Asian and minority ethnic improv group Jumprov with a half hour of games and fun. One moment the troupe members were improvising a tale about a giant sausage and the next they were playing musical chairs with roles.

Jumprov were a particularly apt opener for the festival as the group were formed by performer Sunny Dhap after he attended the inaugural Birmingham Improv last year and noticed the lack of diversity in the audience. There's still a freshness and rawness in the edges of Jumprov but the troupe can certainly rise to the occasion by throwing out new material on cue.

Also Birmingham-based are Fat Penguin Improv whose half-hour set was based on a real-life story prompted by one word from the audience. In this case, the word was 'finger' which led to an anecdote about an attempt to be cool by hanging onto the roof of a Mini Metro – until the doors were slammed on both hands – ouch!

From this point, the troupe digressed into a number of sketches loosely held together with a common thread. Fast-paced and energetic, there were plenty of laugh-out-loud moments but the show as a whole would have benefited from a bit more variety of character and narrative.

Headliner Rhymes Against Humanity are high on imagination, performance and delivery, creating a one hour musical out of a title offered by the audience. Quite how they managed to turn 'Blasted by the AC' into a musical with so many characters, plot-lines, songs and even dance routines is beyond me.

rhymes against humanity at Birmingham Improv Festival
Rhymes Against Humanity

So we had the thwarted office romance in a company who specialised in air conditioning, a polar bear travelling across the ice to discover the cause of global warming and a daughter attempting to win her father's respect by evilly heating up the planet. Where the company is particularly expert is in taking the clichés of musical theatre and using them to drive the story forward.

Taking place at the Blue Orange Theatre in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter, there will no doubt be plenty more gems during the week-long festival. See for more details.
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Why? Quick fire comedy
When: until 29 October
Phone: 0121 212 2643
Where: Birmingham Blue Orange Theatre
Cost: from £6
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