It’s Beginning To Improv A Lot Like Christmas – INTERVIEW – The Parentheticals: Merry Questmas

Welcome to a special themed set of interviews for the lead up to Christmas – celebrating all the wonderful festive shows that are on this year. I have sat down with a bunch of troupes to find out more about the shows that they are performing.

Today we speak to Brendan Way of The Parentheticals to talk all about their Christmas quest show that they are bringing to Camden on the 11th and 12th of December at the Etcetera Theatre.

Hello Brendan, tell us all about The Parentheticals?

We are seven improvisers who make up medieval fantasy quests based on audience suggestions! So there will be dungeons and taverns and magical forests, plus a character in search of an object chosen by YOU.

What is the show that you are bringing to London in this Festive season?

We’re bringing our show, Improdyssey, back to Etcetera Theatre! We debuted it at this summer’s Camden Fringe and this is our second draft of the format. Which, for the holidays, we’re rebranding as ‘Merry Questmas’.

Will there be a bit of festivity in your show?

Definitely. Our stories may be set centuries before the Victorians popularised Christmas trees and St Nick became Santa, but we’ll definitely aim to include presents, snow, and chestnuts roasting on an open fire.

What are your favourite things about the festive season and why?

It’s an opportunity to reflect on all the fun things you did over the year. You meet up with friends and family. There’s a lot of great movies on TV.

This time of year the venues tend to be a bit busier as well – do you find that the audience changes at all?

Our December show was definitely popular last year! I think people are drawn to an night with a theme or an event that’s tied into a holiday. They like being part of a celebration.

What advice would you give for people performing around the festive season – is it important to drop a Christmas related theme into it?

Keep your ticket prices low and schedule shows towards the beginning of the week. People will want to save their money and weekends for shopping and work parties.

I don’t think it’s necessary for shows to relate to Christmas or indeed winter. You certainly shouldn’t force that connection. People are just looking to have a good time.

What is the best thing about a night at The Parentheticals for the audience?

They have SO many opportunities to influence the show! We deliberately designed it so that we get lots of audience suggestions throughout. They give us the title, multiple settings, and, in our favourite part of the night, move the characters onstage in a game of Statues.

If people want to find out more about you, where can they follow you on social media?

We’re on Twitter at @tparentheticals, Facebook via @parentheticalsimprov, and online at

What is YOUR favourite show you have done this year and why?

Our sold out Camden Fringe gig felt amazing. It was the middle of our run. We’d made some important changes from our debut the day before. It was the first time we really proved to ourselves that the format we had been developing for weeks worked and worked well. It was wonderful.

And Finally in three words – Why should people come and see the show?

Magical Christmas fun.


Best Christmas cracker joke and why?
What do you get if you cross a vampire and a snowman? Frostbite.

Favourite Christmas film and why?
Muppet. Christmas. Carol. The songs are a delight.


What do you want for Christmas this year?
A couple of books and DVDs. As a writer, I always appreciate getting a pen.

What is the best adaptation in YOUR opinion of A Christmas Carol?
Muppets. No question about it. They frequently quote Dickens’ actual lines. It’s actually a very faithful adaptation!


Brussel Sprouts – Love or hate?
‘Love’ is too strong a word. They’re FINE. I eat them.


Favourite Christmas pop song?
All I want for Christmas is you.


Can you name what happens on the 12 days of Christmas in the song?
Lords a leaping. Maids a milking. Ten ladies dancing. Drummers drumming. Six geese a laying. FIIIIIVE GOOOOOLD RIIIIINGS. Four calling birds. Three French hens. Two turtle doves. And a partridge in a pear tree. Wow, that is a LOT of birds. They’re going to have leftovers for MONTHS.


Favourite Christmas Food and why?
Cranberry sauce. Such a great flavour.


Were you ever part of a nativity play at school? What role were you given?
Absolutely. My very first role in a nativity was a shepherd and my last was a narrator who told the story via rap.


What is your favourite Christmas episode of any TV show?
GREAT QUESTION.  I like Community’s musical parody of Glee. As a sucker for all things Christmas Carol, I thought Doctor Who’s episode with Michael Gambon was a lot of fun.


A big important question is Die Hard a Christmas film?
Any film you watch at Christmas is a Christmas film! But, no. The holiday is not integral to the plot.

The Parentheticals: Merry Questmas. Tuesday 11th – Wednesday 12th December. 7PM at Etcetera Theatre. Tickets are available from the Etcetera Theatre’s website or at the box office.

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