Review by Lucy Ross
If you love improvisation, musical theatre and a good ol’ rom com – this is certainly the show for you!
‘Unplanned Melodies’ is a fabulous group of improvisors including Alex Williams, Angela Bradburn, Chloe Latham, Kate Knott, Liam McMahon, and Madeleine Stokes with accompanist Nick Harriot. Their latest show ‘Love Probably’ is a completely improvised musical… oh yes you read that right – a completely improvised musical. Not one person started the show with any notion of what was going to happen. What they could promise, however, is that their story would somewhat be based around those romantic comedy movies we all know and love.
They begin by asking the audience for suggestions on where their story should be set, where their love-struck characters will meet and a random object. On the night I attended we had, in order, ‘bakery’, ‘funeral’ and ‘whistle’. As you can imagine the audience was incredibly intrigued as where this was all going to go and how these elements would be worked in.
Delightfully it went astonishingly well – every single performer had a quick wit and had something amazing to offer the performance. They were very well tuned to each other, immediately picking up on tiny details given by other actors. This made the storyline seem well structured and thought out, despite the fact it was being created on the spot in front of us. The wonderful thing about watching improvisation is seeing actors bounce ideas off each other. Sometimes certain lines come out that surprise everyone, even the actor that said it. In this performance, they really threw each other some curve balls – and they dealt with it brilliantly. They had a really strong sense of humour and playfulness that came across really well.
As fantastic as the performers were, I do have to give a massive shout out to their pianist – Nick Harriot. He was improvising along with them, not just when they decided to break into song, but underscored the entire performance. It is a true musical talent to not only improvise music, but to also convey mood and expression throughout AND also be prepared for someone to sing along with you. His accompaniment really elevated the performance and for moments made you feel you were watching an actual pre-written proper musical.
Unfortunately, no one but the audience I was present in will witness the dynamic story of the struggling croissantary that lead to the ultimate demise of Peanuts the squirrel. But that’s a part of the magic of improvisation! And I am positive that if you get yourself to a future performance with ‘Unplanned Melodies’ they will deliver you an absolutely magical, hilarious and unexpected experience.