Review: Austentatious, Leicester Square Theatre

“Shall I put some cucumber on it”

This latest edition of Austentatious was part of London Book & Screen Week so before the usual contributions of (fake Austen scholar) Professor Sam Patten, we were treated to a chat with (real Austen scholar) Professor Kathryn Sutherland around her work on Austen’s teenage writing (soon to be published) and touching on the woman herself, including some amusing bon mots about our lack of portraits of her and an inadvertent suggestion of what should have been the title for the evening – Bum and Bonnet.

As it was, we were treated to Trump and Trepidation, which offered a fascinating spin on the usual improvised shenanigans as it meant that there was a ready made world of insanity to be relentlessly mocked as well as the made up one that the company creates on the spot. It was an interesting tension (I do object to being made to consider Spicer or Conway characters capable of redemption!) but one that was predictably hilarious as Lord Trump celebrated his victory over Mr Sanders in the race to join the Hampshire parish council by trying to force his daughter to marry him instead of her true love Spicer. Continue reading “Review: Austentatious, Leicester Square Theatre”

Review: Andrew Hunter Murray – Round One, Soho Theatre

“This year we won’t have a practical round after last year’s ‘Can you put out a chip pan fire?’ debacle”

It’s no secret that I’ve tumbled hard for the Austentatious guys so it should come as no surprise that I’m now stalking them at their solo shows too. Rachel Parris brought us her Best Laid Plans last week and Andrew Hunter Murray has also been appearing the Soho Theatre with his Round One (which has just announced two more dates later in March). The former really makes the break from improvised work with her scripted show and with its looser sketch format, it’s interesting to see how Hunter Murray’s seems to work best when it is involving the audience.

The show is built around a pub quiz, The 15th Annual Rose and Crown Pub Quiz Championship Final no less, but its content actually comes in the spaces inbetween the rounds, where Hunter Murray works through a roll-call of character sketches. There’s the impromptu seated samba class with Arturo Flame which is huge fun, the representative from the crime and erotic book group who talks only in rhyme (the pineapple/Miss Marple couplet is a thing of joy) and these sections fizz with life as he clearly relishes sparking off the interactions with the front row. Continue reading “Review: Andrew Hunter Murray – Round One, Soho Theatre”

Review: Austentatious, Leicester Square

“We were put on this earth to flash the flesh”

Time for the monthly visit to Austentatious and this trip saw Jane Austen’s undiscovered novel Tears and Torsos get its first airing, including all manner of slippery clay, parents inside a tiger, nudity, promiscuity and a diablo maniac in Brighton. As ever, it remains a brilliant way to spend a Sunday night, over and done with in an hour which means you can go home (like my friends did) or carry on drinking (like I accidentally did). Either way, you really should get yourselves along to one of their shows sooner or later. London dates here and UK dates here.

 

News – Rachel Parris and Andrew Hunter Murray announce solo dates

“What do we really know about Jane Austen?”

If you’ve followed me with any regularity, then you’ll know that I have become something of an Austentatious groupie, more often than not on the last Sunday of the month (and on selected other dates and venues too) you’ll find me at the Leicester Square Theatre regaling us with one of Jane Austen’s lost novels, improvised on the spot from a title suggested by one of the audience. 

One of these days, it will be mine that is picked, I’m sure of it! (I came close a couple of weeks ago though, look!)

Our no.1 #unchosentitle from last nights show was the very appropriately titled morality play “Where there’s a Wiltons, there’s a way” #true pic.twitter.com/hbBaItWuaG

— Austentatious (@AustenImpro) January 17, 2017

January’s show saw them welcome back the wonderful Cariad Lloyd after a brief maternity break and take on Lust and Lesbians, creating something surprisingly moving and dramatic for once, as well as exceedingly funny with its scandalised servants and threesomes in Magaluf. But I’m mainly here to let you know that at least two of the Austentatious crew have solo shows coming up at the Soho Theatre in March. 

Rachel Parris: Best Laid Plans plays downstairs from 6th – 8th March and Andrew Hunter Murray: Round One (he’s a QI elf doncha know) plays upstairs from 2nd to 8th March and both are guaranteed to be bloody good nights out.

Review: 2017 London Jam – Austentatious, Wilton’s Music Hall

“We’re going to have to tell the vicar”

The 2017 London Jam is a festival of improvisation presented by The Showstoppers, in association with Extempore Theatre & Something for the Weekend, featuring a wide range of improv stars from across both the UK and the world – the improvised Ibsen troupe from Norway being the unlikeliest inclusion there. Naturally, we went along to see our beloved Austentatious and as ever, they did not disappoint.

Regaling us with the tale of Fear and Fascination, full of illicit hat-wearing, malevolent vicars with a predilection for flashbacks, and sheep-loving surprises, this was the team at their best, taking their time with a slow start to to tease out some utterly surreal story strands. The bit of audience participation was unexpected good fun, but it was the surprise murder and the group’s stunned reaction and subsequent glee that made it one of the best unknown Jane Austen novels I’ve yet seen.

Re-review: Austentatious, Leicester Square Theatre

“I’m Gary, the unicorn”

The diary nature of this blog – in that I have always wanted it to be a complete record of what I have seen – mandates that I have to write something about my umpteenth visit to see Austentatious but truth be told, there isn’t much more to say that you should really get yourselves along to see this most talented and funny group of improvisers who fashion an hour-long lost Jane Austen novel out of a title provided at random by an audience members.

Tonight’s show was the surreal tale of Acid and Tequila at the Chocolate Factory and was as reliably hilarious as it ever is – I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed by them in the many many times I’ve been, so I really do recommend making going to see Austentatious one of your New Year’s resolutions.

Review: Austentatious, Leicester Square

“Look at his fine undercarriage”

It’s practically a monthly pilgrimage now, going to the Leicester Square Theatre to see Austentatious and as ever, it was a genius piece of improvised Austen-related shenanigans. Picking up on the Hallowe’en theme, we were treated to The Invasion of the Bonnet-Snatchers, and again as ever, it’s nigh on impossible to describe how thrilling it is see the company of six devise and dance around each other with such skill, picking up story strands and comic tidbits and threading them throughout the hour with seemingly effortless grace. And above all, they make you laugh, oh so much. 

Running time: 60 minutes (with interval)
November tour dates here

Review: Austentatious, Leicester Square Theatre

“I want to see you do the worm”

If you haven’t heard of them, Austentatious are a cracking improv troupe who, having taken title suggestions from the audience, improvise an “eloquent but irreverent” tale in the style of Jane Austen. This festive iteration saw the group tackle Phil and Fallibility, a tale of haughty cousins, French speakeasys, complex welcoming hand gestures and communication channels to the council…it’s all a lot funnier in the watching of it obviously, in fact it is downright hilarious and a definite recommendation for a fun night out that won’t break the bank or keep you up too late. 

Running time: 1 hour
Photo: Idil Sukan
Various booking dates at the Old Queen’s Head and Leicester Square Theatre