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An Improbable Musical - Royal and Derngate Review

Northampton's Royal and Derngate have teamed up with renowned improvisation company, Improbable to co-produce their latest work, An Improbable Musical. The show is based on the premise that every night a new piece of theatre is brought to life right before our eyes.

To begin the show we're greeted with the cast members and the on-stage musicians who are about to bring a new musical to life without knowing what is about to happen. To guide the story there are some questions asked to the audiences where shouting back is encouraged and the best suggestions are noted down and a general idea is formed by all and away we go for 80 minutes of a masterclass in improvisation and performance.

An Improbable Musical cast. Photo by Marc Brenner

The press night presented such suggestions as being set in the Lakes, the use of chocolate, and a sentence about a fire that wasn't the person's fault. Without much prep and with the use of a few bits of set that embossed and embellished the story the performers and the musicians bounced off each other seamlessly.

At the heart of our night was a relationship that was struggling and at breaking point and this led both husband and wife on a journey of self-discovery with bizarre encounters with some skinny dipping friends or hitting the town and being surrounded by gyrating ladies. The whole production was utterly chaotic, and with any improvisation, some ideas worked better than others but the whole piece was joyous. I smiled and roared with laughter throughout.

All 5 cast members are outstanding and at ease with improv and with each other. Comedy legend Josie Lawrence is a delight to watch, she has such warmth on stage and delivers humour with such skill. Ruth Bratt impresses with both her comic ability and her delightful vocal ability. Bratt reminds me of Victoria Wood in her delivery and skill. She manages to combine characters whilst never not being right on the comic or musical beat.

Niall Ashdown is wickedly fun to watch as he concocts ideas and delivers them that will have you in floods of laughter. Adam Courting and Janet Etuk both impress in slightly more supporting roles in the press night performance but both add to the story and the whole performance and offer their own fantastic ideas and voices.

Josie Lawrence with Adam Courting and Janet Etuk. Photo by Marc Brenner

Huge credit must go to the 4 on stage musicians led by musical director Christopher Ash, with Max Gittings on flute, Joley Cragg on percussion and Juliet Colyer on cello. The music drives the dialogue and creates a melody for the performers to create lyrics to. The ease in which the music flowed without any dialogue between performers and musicians is magnificent and exciting to watch created before you.

For the entire performance, I laughed, laughed and laughed some more and felt myself feeling such comfort and happiness. You simply can't ask for more from a night out. An Improbable Musical offers the audience for watching a unique one-off performance delivered by world-class talents. One of the funniest nights I've ever experienced at the theatre. Undeniable genius.

Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

An Improbable Musical continues at Royal and Derngate until Saturday 5th March 2022. Limited tickets remain and are available from

.Adam Courting. Photo by Marc Brenner

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