The Improvised Workplace Comedy at Little Chicago, Sheffield
Bobby Anderson is co-artistic director of Stürike Comedy, the house team of Little Chicago. In this column he reviews the acts that perform and lets you know where to find more of them.
Work in Progress Improv are a new team, less than a year old having formed in Sheffield last summer. Their format is an improvised workplace comedy in the style of The Office, The Thick of It, The American Office and other ones I’m sure we can all name.
The suggestion for the show is an office behind a company or product that you’ve always wanted to see. Today’s show was the company that makes fortune cookie fortunes, and we jump straight into the start of a workday with everyone arriving in the office and having a few key interactions. We’re introduced to everyone and their role within the company efficiently, with a few games set up immediately: the manager is a musician, the person who writes the fortunes is struggling and the guy who bends the cookies is losing his fingers to the work.
The rest of the show is a standard free form narrative set in and around the office, with a few set scenes the cast can call on if they need to, such as a team meeting. All the pieces of a great show are there: the jokes fly at a hell of a pace; games are escalated to their conclusion and then further; the story is built simply and resolved pretty damn well for a troupe that clearly wants to focus more on the japes and capers than the plot.
You can tell a number of this cast have some stuff to get off their chest, be it stupid office-speak or the pointlessness of 9am “stand ups”. And it never comes off as simply annoyed, the cast find the funny in the stupid things we see and say every day, grounding the absurdity of other elements of the show beautifully.
There are a few cracks that can be expected from a newer troupe – we arrived at “crazy town” pretty early and a few scenes were swept before they were done – but these are things that would never bother an audience so I don’t think it’s fair to judge them on. This troupe is definitely new and has a lot of room to grow, but this show was great fun and had the pace to comfortably fill their half hour slot and keep me laughing throughout. Keep an eye out for them
RATINGS: **** 4 stars: The grounded absurdity of a modern office mixed with the hilarious absurdity of improv.
Work in Progress