Tag Archives: The Free Association

Important Art

★★★

VAULT Festival 2020

Important Art

Important Art

Crypt – The Vaults

Reviewed – 16th February 2020

★★★

 

“has potential both in concept and its players”

 

Important Art is the final show in an extensive line-up at the VAULT Festival 2020 from the improvised comedy syndicate Free Association. Packed with a mock showcase of the very best of high culture, Important Art satirises the inaccessible world of art and its clichés.

The show is split into three parts which have varying degrees of success. The first section is some so-called French-prov, that is, improvised ‘sneak peeks’ from a new French film which is performed by Amanda Stauffer and Clemence Billoud almost entirely in French. Graham Dickson (also the turtleneck-clad host for the evening) and Sophie Broido then take to the stage to perform a supposed snippet of a lost play from the famed American playwright Tennessee Williams. The show closes with Alex Holland and Chris Gau attempting to do some serious improv skits.

Dickson is a great host and both the production’s strongest comedian and actor. In his scenes with Broido, who also does well throughout, Dickson jumps between two very different roles with ease, before returning confidently to his hosting role.

Stauffer and Billoud are clearly both very talented but their French comedy will perhaps be lost on certain audiences. With little to no French, one would struggle to keep up with what’s happening on stage, and several rather blank stares from audience members unfortunately confirm this.

Their scenes would have been far more accessible if they had thrown in the odd French phrase or word but spoken in heavily accented English for most of their performance. It is unclear what point they are trying to make with this bit as though conversations about caca suggest that this is unlike a typical pretentious French art film, a pretty high level of understanding is still required to fully enjoy this part of the production.

Dickson and Broido lead the show’s best section, the theme of which is vaguely prompted by two nouns given by the audience. Even those unfamiliar with Williams’ work can understand, appreciate and laugh at the ridiculous tropes of fiction about small town American life. Broido and Dickson also have great chemistry and bounce off each other well.

The final section by Holland and Gau is amusing but their slapstick comedy won’t be for everyone. The duo establish that they are keen to do improv that covers serious topics, but their scenes always descend into physical fighting complete with smashing plates and ripping clothes. The premise is fun but gets old quickly, though the duo does manage to hit a sweet spot in terms of performance length.

The stage is void of any props other than two chairs which are joined by a table for Holland and Gau’s performance, and the music does well to create a feeling of faux sophistication.

Important Art has potential both in concept and its players, but it needs to reassess how it can appeal to and draw in those who may have initially been alienated by the show’s snooty title and borderline elite content.

 

Reviewed by Flora Doble

 

VAULT Festival 2020

 

 

Click here to see all our reviews from VAULT Festival 2020

 

Minority Report

★★★½

VAULT Festival 2020

Minority Report

Minority Report

Crypt – The Vaults

Reviewed – 11th February 2020

★★★½

“With their quick wit and shared comedic stylings, Minority Report and its members are definitely worth looking out for”

 

Minority Report are the first resident team of the improvised comedy syndicate Free Association to be made up of exclusively BAME players. For one night only at the VAULT Festival 2020, the Minority Report players – Ambika Mod, Hari Kanth, Kiran Benawra, Evelyn Mok, Ishan Ganjoor and Amille Jampa Ngoen – hosted and performed a show of two parts beginning with two fifteen-minute stand-up comic sets from outside of the group followed by around half an hour of improv.

After an enthusiastic introduction by Ganjoor (who was also the host for the evening), film graduate Nathan D’Arcy Roberts opened the show with some amusing anecdotes about his experience of being mixed race and having an ‘ambiguous’ appearance.

Ken Cheng, winner of Dave’s Funniest Joke at the Fringe award in 2017, was up next and spent most of his set poking fun at the nonsensical world of online debate. Roberts and Cheng did a fine job of warming up the crowd before joining the Minority Report players on stage for some improvised sketches. The players began by performing a series of short vignettes in groups of four inspired by an initial prompt of ‘baby shower’ before moving onto more general sketches in varying group sizes.

Mod and Ngoen were the standout performances. Kanth also had some great scenes, exuding a Richard Ayoade-esque awkwardness. Chemistry amongst the group varied and there were some clearly preferable pairings such as Mod and Benawra who bounced off each other particularly well.

The group did well to play off earlier mishaps and jokes which also succeeded in creating a strong thread throughout the show. For example, Mok’s misnomer of ‘charity mugger’ for a ‘charity chugger’ led to a fantastically silly scene between Ganjoor and Kanth in which the former demanded the latter hand over his wallet so that he could donate the contents to Marie Curie. Some more prompts from the audience would have been a welcome addition to the show as other than the location of the initial scene there was no participation from the crowd.

The stage consisted of a simple black backdrop, some chairs and a microphone stand. There were no other props other than the chairs and these were seldom used other than for their intended purpose. The lighting was at its most complex when jumping between the two improv groups as one was spotlighted while the other left in the dark.

There is a lot of potential in the Minority Report players, both as a group and as individuals. With their quick wit and shared comedic stylings, Minority Report and its members are definitely worth looking out for.

 

Reviewed by Flora Doble

 

VAULT Festival 2020

 

 

Click here to see all our reviews from VAULT Festival 2020