Improv Fest Ireland kicks off to a fantastic start

Improv Fest Ireland opening night by John Loftus

improv fest ireland

Improv Fest Ireland kicked off its 3rd year in fine style in The Teacher’s Club on Dublin’s historic Parnell Square on Sunday November 15th.

Improv Fest is the brainchild of Neil Curran & Orla McGovern who have trawled stages far and wide to bring the most eclectic line-up of Irish and international improvisers to grace these shores.

The first day of this week long festival of fun begins with a double bill featuring The Improvorphans from Dublin and the debut of “It’s Relative” by members of Choke Comedy from Limerick.

The Imrovorphans are a great choice to commence proceedings with their high energy short form improv show. We are treated to host of quick fire games, with everything from the story of a gerbil (or was it a hamster) and his efforts to emulate James Bond, to a very competitive Olympic ironing board competition that definitely got very unruly towards the end with some unscrupulous use of the boards. The show culminates with some very strange goings on in the fictional town (or is it?) of Deidrekearneyville featuring spider rats in a haunted house and unusual remedies for black eyes including dead animals.

There is a slight pause for breath before the next act takes to the stage. “It’s Relative” is a new show for Tracy Aspel, Matt Cannon & some lad called John Loftus from Limerick’s long lasting improv troupe Choke Comedy. Given that I am actually in the show it goes without saying that it’s a brilliantly executed piece of improv performance combing short form & long form elements along with a few show stopping songs all with a view of exploring the nature of a relationship chosen by the audience.

On this occasion it’s teachers and students that are the focus of the show which gives our improv gang plenty scope to work with. So we have the student that will do “anything” to get her gold stars, teachers in detention dreaming of ways of not having to teach but still getting paid and a teacher who thinks that acting as some sort of gigolo is the best way of connecting with his students. After a stirring debate on whether teachers are worthy or just plain stupid the show is brought to a rousing conclusion with a heart warming anthem dedicated to teachers everywhere sung by our cast of characters.

Later on in the afternoon we have another double-bill this time featuring the first international performers of Improv Fest 2015 in the shape of The Alphabetties who share the entertainment duties with another Dublin troupe Not The Eyes.

The Alphabetties are four ladies from London whose show is triggered by a single word suggestion from the audience, in this case the word is “lemon”. This commences an insight into the wine industry where we find out that (as we always suspected) that there is only two types of wine – red and white and that rose (the link stuff) is merely a bit of both shaken together. Wine apparently has some other interesting affects on female fertility as does heroin which is also used by politicians to encourage voters to vote for them. Wine apparently is also the achilles heel of James Bond which leads to a number of schemes to get rid of 007 only to be foiled by see through glasses, a gun is suggested but dismissed by Mulcahy (our assassin). This leads to an insight into the gun industry and apparently there are only big guns & small guns. Our entertaining time with the 4 ladies from London is brought to a close with a lesson on juicing and we’re left with the lesson that while everything can be juiced, the juice might not taste too good.

I have seen Not The Eyes a number of times and they are always entertaining – today is no exception. We are treated to a surreal soap opera set in Middle America surrounding a corrupt sheriff, poorly paid professors and a dysfunctional family who eat off the floor or from basins. Red Rock has nothing on the drama that unfurls in a place where coal is the ultimate commodity and there is much confusion over a lot of things including whether there has been an outbreak of black psoriasis or have some coal thieves just been a little careless? Who cares anyway as it’s all highly entertaining.

I couldn’t make the rest of the day’s proceedings but there was a Women in Improv discussion panel and the Celebrity Improv show in The Workman’s Club (in aid of Crumlin Hospital) and that was only on the first day !

Improv Fest Ireland runs till next Saturday November 21st in The Teacher’s Club on Parnell Square, Dublin – details at www.improvfestireland.com.

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