Tag Archives: Cariad Lloyd

The Good The Bad and The Fifty

The Good, The Bad and the Fifty

Wilton’s Music Hall

The Good The Bad and The Fifty

The Good The Bad and the Fifty

Wilton’s Music Hall

Reviewed – 15th February 2019



“The cast is strong, verbally agile and crucially – so, so crucially for a show like this – seem to be having a good time”


Improvised comedy can be nerve-shredding. For casts, certainly, but for audiences too. Jokes teeter on the brink of finding their target or falling flat. Repartee must hustle along at a relentless pace. Everything is but seconds away from an awkward pause or a fluffed line. Thank God, then, that the stellar cast of the London Improvathon keep it all on the hilarious side of panic.

The theme for this year is all things Wild West, and the series of character introductions demonstrates immediately what territory we’re in (literally). You’ve got your classic hellfire-preaching pastor and chaste daughter, your gunslinging sheriff, your out-of-towner and your town drunk (the likeable character of Dirk Gundersson, with some laugh-out-loud delivery). On the subject of those character introductions, this cast is so huge that running through each character in this way actually risks an early slackening of pace – and hey, isn’t it cheating to use your improv time for beefy prepared intros?

No matter. Once we’re into the meat of the show, the true improvisation, the fun really begins. The model is slick; an excellent compère/director works alongside a remarkably adaptable pair of musicians and a lighting crew to set up each scene, at which point selected actors are bundled in and, without so much as a ‘howdy pard’ner’, the freestyling begins. Naturally some scenes are stronger than others, and, at least in the first of the 25 two-hour chapters, a sense of a meaningful through narrative is hard to find. But the need for one slips away as we’re lured into the peculiar world of ‘Wilton’s Creek’ one vignette at a time. The cast is strong, verbally agile and crucially – so, so crucially for a show like this – seem to be having a good time.

As is perhaps so often the way with improv, standout moments come when things start to get away from our players. It’s quickly clear that we’re in capable hands, with some actors always displaying a clear mastery over their craft (the character of Colonel Sanders, for example, is uniformly a joy to watch). Feeling secure, the audience enjoy the occasional verbal cul-de-sac confident that it will be turned to humour. The Colonel’s spelling out of ‘perspicacity’, visibly instantly regretted, is a great example of this, as is Pastor John breaking character to address an audience member and warn that God will text him their name.

The night isn’t perfect. It’s rotten luck for the less confident cast members to sit among such an accomplished ensemble, as less than whip-smart performances become all the more obvious. And it was notable to me that, at least in the chapter I saw, this cast of approaching twenty people were all white.

This is a blissfully adroit cast though (one might say perspicacious), and it’s hard to begrudge a moment of the very apparent fun being had on stage. And yee ha! It’s delicious silliness for audiences too.


Reviewed by Abi Davies

Photography by Claire Bilyard


The Good The Bad and the Fifty

Wilton’s Music Hall


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Songs For Nobodies | ★★★★ | March 2018
A Midsummer Night’s Dream | ★★★½ | June 2018
Sancho – An act of Remembrance | ★★★★★ | June 2018
Twelfth Night | ★★★ | September 2018
Dietrich – Natural Duty | ★★★★ | November 2018
The Box of Delights | ★★★★ | December 2018
Dad’s Army Radio Hour | ★★★★ | January 2019


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A Funny Thing Happened – 4 Stars


A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit …

Finborough Theatre

Reviewed – 4th October 2018


“opens up the walls of free speech to challenge our notions of offence”


“I’ve been single so long? I’ve started having sexual fantasies about my vibrator.” At odds with the sombre hospital ward setting, this opening line of the European premiere of Halley Feiffer’s script sets the tone for piece determined to find comedy in life’s darkest moments. Spunky and spirited Karla (Cariad Lloyd) is trying out some new “bits” for her mother (‘Marcie’, played by Kristin Milward), bedbound by her cancer treatment. On the other side of the curtain, unassuming forty-something Don (Rob Crouch) arrives to visit his mother (Cara Chase). What starts out as offence turns into friendship, and over the course of the play, the relationship between this mismatched couple deepens as the tragedy that underpins the reasons for their connection grows ever more present. Family is at the heart of this touching and witty play, and this production offers genuine laugh-out-loud moments – often at the expense of others – gently mixed with tender and nuanced moments of introspection and revelation.

What’s so glorious about the comedy on display is how fresh it seems. Shifting from the off into the murky realm between ‘funny’ and ‘offensive’, “A Funny Thing…” invites the audience to admit no topic is off-limits. Are only certain groups of people allowed to make certain jokes? Is, as Karla declares, there “anything funnier than rape”? This audience in particular seemed to enjoy gasping and laughing in unison, and, especially by giving this shocking and foul-mouthed voice to a female comedian character, opens up the walls of free speech to challenge our notions of offence (something Ricky Gervais has spent many years trying to do).

The performances on display are exceptional, showing an acute awareness of comic timing whilst still producing believable and relatable characters on stage. Cariad Lloyd flows with natural energy and it utterly compelling, whilst Rob Crouch, although seeming sometimes too heightened in comparison to Lloyd, embodies the everyman battered down by the pains and disappointments of his life. Chase and Milward, silent and asleep in bed for most of the play, hold a lot of presence, and their moments of speech come as a pleasant and hilarious surprise. Milward especially justifies everything that comes out of Marcie’s mouth making her perhaps the most memorable character in the show.

It is the nature of a script set in a hospital ward that much of the action takes place sat down in chairs, but Bethany Pitts’ direction still makes space for dynamic moments of motion that disrupt the normality of sitting, reading and waiting. Isabella Van Braeckel’s detailed costume design deserves a mention for its simple awareness of each character, allowing us to truly see these whose these people are at a glance.

With gasps and guffaws in equal measure, “A Funny Thing…” translates well into British culture, being moving, wince-inducing and really funny all in one go. Not one to be missed.


Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich

Photography by James O Jenkins


A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit

Finborough Theatre until 27th October


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Imaginationship | ★★ | January 2018
Into the Numbers | ★★★★ | January 2018
Booby’s Bay | ★★★★ | February 2018
Cyril’s Success | ★★★ | February 2018
Checkpoint Chana | ★★★★ | March 2018
Returning to Haifa | ★★★★ | March 2018
White Guy on the Bus | ★★★★ | March 2018
Gracie | ★★★★ | April 2018
Masterpieces | ★★ | April 2018
Break of Noon | ★½ | May 2018
The Biograph Girl | ★★★ | May 2018
Finishing the Picture | ★★★★ | June 2018
But it Still Goes on | ★★★★ | July 2018
Homos, or Everyone in America | ★★★★ | August 2018
A Winning Hazard | ★★★★ | September 2018
Square Rounds | ★★★ | September 2018


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