Date of the Review: 22/5/19
Location: FEST, Camden
It is mid week and I am here to review a show that I already know will have a huge following because of the name and theme of it. Already going into this show I know that they are going to sell out in Edinburgh Fringe and that everyone loves anything to do with Harry Potter, so you know there is no pressure as a reviewer!
The first thing you notice about this venue in which the show is being shown in is that it is really dark and smokey which fits perfectly in with the theme of Potter and magic. The room is really full, which again I was expecting as these guys have a huge following. Whilst the smoke and the ambient lighting surrounds you a light, quiet noise of magical based music also plays quietly in the background again painting a picture of what you are expecting to see on stage.
When you are welcomed into the venue you are given pieces of paper where you write on one side the title of a book you would want to of seen and then on the right hand side deleted scenes that you would of wanted to of seen in the books – these suggestions will lead the show. You put your suggestion in a wizards hat.
As soon as the lights dim down and the troupe are welcomed on stage there is an instant problem – the sound, the audio is incredibly loud, the floor is even vibrating and continues to do so throughout the show that it sadly tarnishes what is happening on stage but we will come to that later.
The music that the group are introduced on stage with is a flatter version of the famous Harry Potter song which is good fun because it sort of connotes the silliness that is about to happen. All four of the members are wearing a different house robe which they wear for the entire show which is great for the theme but when they play different characters in different houses it would of been nice that they all turn to a neutral colour at some point. Its not a big deal but you sometimes forget.
The group introduce the night and what is in store for the audience incredibly well, they are in depth in describing what Improv is and really teasing the sort of styles that are going to play out the night. Unlike their Edinburgh Fringe show this is a 2 hour set so I was very interested to see how they were going to expand it and they did it in a very clever and creative format.
The first part of the show is all about short scenes sort of like a Meanwhile type of game, they pick suggestions out of a hat and improvise the deleted scenes that people would like to see. There are some very great and also random suggestions that they take on really well and build up some very clever scenework. The puns were related to the books and were aimed wildly for even the lightest Potter fan to catch on.
The short scenes welcome you in to a creatively funny entrance into the side of the Wizarding World that you have never seen and some of the suggestions really did make it a challenge for the players but they worked it really well. The audience adored when their suggestions were picked and the ruder they were, the more the audience reacted. I never thought I would ever see a Neville nightclub stripping scene with Snape but here we are.
One of the big topics of the night was Brexit – this came up a lot and I do reward the team for working out ways to make it relevant both to the news and Harry Potter whilst also tactically steering away from it whenever they could find a way out. One of the highlight Brexit scenes was one about Voldemort and his followers and having to deal with EU and Brexit sort of situation as to if they follow him. The audience responded huge to this scene and loved it whilst also appreciating it.
Now, I have to come back to the tech because to me it had a huge impact on the night and I really wish that I had been able to of seen this show in a different venue. As I have already stated it was very loud, that to me personally, the jokes of some of the scenes were being lost. Whenever music played the show became like an instant nightclub, it felt more like a night at a gig then a improv comedy show which is such a shame because this show has a lot of potential and I know that it is probably the sound in the venue but there was another issue with the tech.
I walked away with this with the person I saw it with and had to ask them to be honest with me as to their opinion as well and they had the same opinion. I am a Video Editor so as I have said in previous reviews I am strict when it comes to editing a scene. I felt that the tech booth tarnished this groups show. They were blacked out at times when the scene hadn’t even started, the music and lighting was changed too early in the scene that it manipulated what the Players did on stage and you could tell at times it really geared them off of what they were aiming to do. I have no problems with well lit shows with music used, in fact I love the extra effort but I really do wish that whoever was doing tech this night would of let the show breath and actually allow it to build at points to get the jokes across verbally.
You can tell throughout this show that the Players know their Harry Potter as they were not scared to bring in the smaller characters and it worked so well. It was a really fun idea to not always see Harry, Ron and Hermione on stage.
Another highlight of the show was the Fan Fiction – again it was all about Brexit but once the player did the clever technique of steering it away from the topic there were some great scenes and fun throughout. Examples include a 3 way simultaneous word speaking game which I have only ever seen done with 2 people before and the audience went wild, Ron Weasleys task if he wanted to stay in the Quidditch team and Harry’s Rap.
If you are an adult that loves Harry Potter you will really enjoy this show – their impressions of the characters are fun, the Snape one is spot on. They do not let failure or prop problems become an issue either. One of them accidentally broke their wand and instead of ignoring it they made it part of the scene and it was very funny to watch. They were great at keeping the audience at a high level of energy.
The Spontaneous Players really do have a magic show up their sleeve that is guaranteed to sell out. I wish I was able to give this show 5 stars but the tech really did spoil the show and that is an absolute shame.
Ignoring the venue problems, see this show and the Boy that Could Of Lived if he was Improvised.
Rating: **** 4 Stars