Newcastle Improv Festival – REVIEW – The Suggestibles, Alphabetti Theatre

I write this on the train to Edinburgh, after another fabulous night of entertainment from the Newcastle Improv Festival. It has truly been a brilliant experience to be involved. I have been made to feel very welcome and I will definitely be making every effort to attend again next year.

So last night, it was the turn of the hosts to put on a show. The Suggestibles have been going for 15 years and that level of experience was apparent throughout their show last night.

The team were all radio miked up and after the usual warmups and offers of free tickets for best suggestions we were off.

Every game was played to the highest level. Die story told us the hilarious story of Mahatma Gandhi and the whisk. The story took some surprising turns and the performers were especially adept at finishing off each other’s words with barely a pause.

Freeze tag was fast paced and playful and had loads of local references which I particularly enjoyed. For me, hearing the entire show in my home dialect was special as I am normally the only Geordie voice in the teams I play in.

Styles is a game that can fall flat if the performers aren’t confident , but there was no danger of this  last night as  the performers took on the tale of a tattoo artist through the genres of  am dram , western , kabuki ,reality TV  ( including perfectly suited voice over)  80’s pop ,a  fabulous Ealing comedy and an opera . In the hands of such masterful improvisers, every scene was full of humour and spot-on references. The cuts came thick and fast which meant that the laughter was pretty much constant throughout as the performers faced the next challenge .

The 2 headed interviews came next and I enjoyed the mirroring from the characters discussing the broken dam and Love Island Final. It was probably my least favourite game of the show, but the players still shone through their strong characterisation and there were plenty of laughs throughout.

After the interval we had a guessing game. Again, in less capable hands these can be hit and miss, but not with the Suggestibles. The speed at which the players got Ian to guess red light district from the clue ‘red kite is strict’ and my particular favourite about building platforms for Sea lions, which became Celine Dion, were expertly done.

A rendition of Doo Ron Ron followed, which challenged the performers to come up with as many rhymes as possible for a name. I really liked how each time a player couldn’t think of anything else the music stopped and they would then have to begin the next round with a new name.

New choice began with an incredible set up, which had both the players and audience howling with laughter. I have never seen a hare get in a dishwasher before, but I cannot unsee it now! Absolutely brilliant use of physicality and as an improviser myself I was also impressed by the trust in each other to not jump in and cut that scene, but let it play for full effect. The playful nature of the group enabled them to play little tricks on each other and toe licking was only averted by a blackout.

Scenes from a hat (or should I say pan) was excellent. I will never look at an Ikea cushion the same again and talking of not seeing things the same again brings me to the finale.

Aspects of ‘festivals’ (today’s suggestion) started with a perfect rendition of the beginning of the Happy Mondays’ Step On. We found ourselves in Brett Anderson’s (or was it Benny or Bjorn from Abba) yurt. Ian certainly committed to the role ( removing his shirt for the second time this week that I’ve seen – the last being the glitter cabaret to do a rendition of Sweet Transvestite ) to hilarious effect.  The songs were excellent, and the team worked so well together to harmonise and develop memorable choruses. As with all musical improv, the highest praise must go to the musician who just seamlessly created songs and melodies to fit every moment.

This was an absolutely brilliant show, I left feeling exhilarated, uplifted and thoroughly entertained. If you are ever up in the North East, you must see this show! If you can get a ticket that is!

I definitely suggest seeing the Suggestibles. A glorious evening of fast-paced, wonderfully silly and incredibly funny sketches, scenes and songs .

Rating: ***** 5 stars

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