This show gets some ICE-y treatment from KIKI BETTS-DEAN and NANCY NAPPER-CANTER.
Corpus Playroom,7th May, 9.30pm, £5-6
ICE promises to ‘tear apart your favourite game show and stick it back together with a dose of the surreal!’ Well, replace ‘dose’ with ‘overload’ and ‘the surreal’ with ‘awkward boredom’, and you have something resembling the evening’s calamity.
It started badly. Compere Dan Addis failed to put us at our ease – the atmosphere was at times suffocatingly tense. In a game in which he had to shout out the next ‘theme’ to be mimed by the actors, he seemed more bent on making his fellow performers suffer rather than aiding them in smoothing over weak moments. At one point he used ‘awkward’ as an impetus for the performers, with predictably lacklustre results. It also probably would have been helpful had he explained the basic premise of the show, which remained unclear throughout.
None of this would have mattered, though, had the actors just been a bit funnier. Each team had to come up with a name: an open goal for a laugh. Both managed to miss. Team One chose ‘Photo-positive’ (what does that even mean?) while Team Two chose ‘Made of Awesome’.
The audience at least seemed to be on good form. In a spectacular reversal of roles, it was the people who had coughed up a fiver to be there who provided some of the show’s highlights. Given the opportunity to decide what the performers were to do, the audience had Jed Rose impersonate a lover of neo-liberalism, and the challenge was met with aplomb.
When it was left up to the performers, however, they simply didn’t seem to know what was best for themselves. Of the smorgasbord of improvised comedy games to choose from, they seemed to pick the ones least conducive to hilarity. The two best performers were sadly underused; Donna Kitching shone as a sadistic shoe manufacturer, and Jed Rose provided some undeniably amusing moments. But they were very much fighting a losing battle.
The evening felt a lot like a fourteenth birthday party – it’s good fun if you know the host and get to join in the games. But for the audience it was just a bit puzzling. Not that the performers weren’t enjoying themselves. Most of them seemed blissfully unaware of how badly the show was going; Michael Conterio positively glowed with happiness when in the limelight. Though endearing, watching someone else have fun on your buck grew a little tiring to say the least.
We were meant to be watching ‘Improvised Comedy Ents’, but it felt neither comedic and nor much of an ‘ent’ (though undeniably improvised). If you enjoy the experience of watching someone mime falling down a mudslide to no laughter whatsoever, then this was the show for you. For everyone else, an evening in revising would have been more worthwhile.