Improv At Camden Fringe – Preview Review – Improbotics Ltd

Date Reviewed: 27/5/19
Location: The Nest, The Warren, Brighton Fringe

 

The last time that I saw this show was when there was only one improviser and a Robot that was being stubborn and refusing to do what it’s owner was telling him to do. A lot of time has moved on since then and a lot has developed but I wanted to sit down and watch a show that really caught my eye from the birth of it’s creation to now.

It’s Brighton Fringe and the last two nights have been a sell out, so I was interested to see for myself why it is bringing in audiences aged 6 and up, as that is what the leaflet is advertised for. The show is playing in The Nest at The Warren and it is the perfect location for a show like this – a small tin like ship container that is dark and perfect for the futuristic theme of what this show contains. It sort of feels like you are in a time capsule metaphorically speaking.

When you walk into the location you are welcomed by a small little robot in the corner of the stage, you are automatically excited that you are going into a sci-fi universe and also quite smitten because the computer A.L.E.X is pretty cute – a small little white machine about yay heigh. On the stage there is two laptops – it looks like a tech based show and it gives nothing away until you are welcomed into the show by it’s leader and host, Piotr who gives you an in depth yet interesting introduction as to how this evening is going to work. Piotr explains that the AI that they use is called a neural network. Whilst Piotr is explaining the complexity of the show you are about to see, he does it in a simple way that even people with no knowledge of technology can engage with.

The basis is that the neural network processes text input and generates text output, predicting what text comes next.  The concept of the show is to see if robots can play part of a scene in the world of improv – in different scenarios, the player that is nominated will be fed lines of dialogue (from over 100,000 film scripts) through a head piece to interact with the scene that is happening around them.  There is a lot more to it than this but this is the basic concept and if you contact them direct on social media I am sure they can educate you more then myself.

Right from the start the audience are brought into this futuristic world as the players  head into the audience to gather suggestions that will play a lead part in creating these new virtual world scenes. This is a very clever way to bring the audience into this immersive world and already sort of heightens the new age technology theme of the show.

The show is split into different sections so that the technology can be ‘tested’ on different styles of improv to see what and how it works throughout the comedy format. Some of the highlights of the show include an Improvised AI Film / Theatre scene where it is lead by the person being fed AI lines doing a monologue in the scene, which was about a Golden Desert. Another highlight was an action film scene again lead by the AI person, it was about T-Rexes in an action film and it worked very well.

This show works really well because the players are so in sync with one another, they know that there could be time between the AI responding and the lines being said and the improvisers accommodate fo that by painting a world around them.  At times it may come across a tad messy due to the AI interrupting but the players know how to tie it in and make it feel part of the scene. Another highlight is the Player being controlled by the AI doesn’t just say the lines like a robot, they actually give the lines expression and meaning and that is something that is really hard to do when there is a lot going on so I highly praise them for that. The show even finishes on a gripping finale where you have to guess which character is AI but that is all I will say.

This is a show that is for the entire family, whilst the posters says 6+ I sort of disagree with it being targeted at such a young age group as I do not think that it will be something children that young will understand. However saying that, i believe older children will really enjoy it and appreciate it, as it is a great way to inspire children to get into science and technology. If I was Introduced to a show like this as a kid I would of definitely paid more attention to science class as its an interactive way in.

Considering what this show was when I first saw it at the beginning or it’s creation, it is phenomenal to see just how much it has actually developed as a concept. It is engaging, it is like nothing else out there on the improv scene meaning that it is unique.  To me, it has an essence of a Philip K. Dick novel and that is hauntingly beautiful and nerve-racking at the same time.

GO SEE THIS SHOW.

Rating: ***** 5 stars 

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