Date of Show Reviewed: 20/6/19
Location: Museum Of Comedy
It has been away for over a year and this June Suki Webster returned to the stage with her show Guest Speaker and I was there to watch the first show of the run. Tonight’s players are Richard Vranch, Lauren Shearing, Paul Merton playing alongside the leading lady herself – Suki Webster. The show is spread across two hours and in that time it is a mix of both short form games that fans of the show Whose Line Is It Anyway will recognise and also solo improv but more about the main part of the show later.
Firstly, let me state that this was a sell out show and the audience was predominantly non-improvisers who were fans of improv. The show was introduced by Suki alone on the stage – it is not the biggest stage at the Museum of Comedy however they way that it was set up – two chairs either side for the players, made it both welcoming and also a great setting. The audience were welcomed instantly to the high energy of Suki as she introduced the concept of what improv was and what the audience can expect the rest of the evening. The one thing I will applaud her straight off the top is that she said the show was going to be a Brexit and Trump Free Zone which was a huge relief because these are the two topics that end up dominating shows and it gets boring to always see someone having to portray it in a show.
The first game that the team play to introduce all the players to the audience is Whoops – which some may know as Story Story Die. This storytelling game was a great way to introduce the players to the audience and to get to understand their improv styles. Throughout the show there are a number of short form games played as a team but the one thing I really want to highlight in this review is the sole purpose of this show – the Guest Speaker.
Thoughout the show, each improviser will take it in turns to give a 10-15 minute solo improvised speech on a suggestion given by the audience. Each of the speeches have a sort of game attached to them that the player has to abide by. For example Richard Vranch had to do a Best Man’s Speech where he had to start every sentence with a different letter of the alphabet. This is a really tough thing to do as an improviser and these may be strong, well established players on the improv scene but it is also very interesting seeing how they approach such a challenge. At the beginning of the show Suki explains to the audience that it was a concept that scared her of doing and that is why she created it as a show.
The show throughout was full of lots of energy and the audience were laughing constantly non-stop. There is too much to write about in regards to what happened in the show but here are some of the highlights:
- In the game called theatre styles, Suki and Lauren had to perform a school scene as teachers and at one point they were given the genre of ‘Disney Punk’ and the way that Suki completely contrasted Laurens soft singing by turning full blown punk with shouting and rocking out was absolutely hilarious
- Lauren did a whole 15 minute speech as a news reporter talking about the birth of a new panda completely in rhyming couplets and the audience went wild over it.
- Paul Merton being a lawyer in his Guest Speaker where he had to play a 15 minute game of New Choice whilst defending his client for stealing a Platypus.
- Suki Webster playing a Guest Speaker who is doing a cooking demonstration whilst the audience provide the sound effects and her having to justify what is happening.
- Richard Vranch doing a speech as someone graduating and having to adapt his emotions in regards to what the audience chose.
Guest Speaker may of only been away for a year but when you watch it live you realise it is a too long of a gap. It is such a great show, it is fun for all the family and allows you to see well established improvisers in such a different light. This show really highlights the talents of the players and really entices and engages with the audience to want more and more.
The show is a really great concept and Suki really needs to be praised for bringing a wonderful show about in the first place. This show is a real mix of improvisation and it is real fun for everyone. If you are heading to Newcastle Improv Festival be sure to book this show you will not want to miss out.