Making theatre in 2020 is proving to be a very difficult task, but many amazing people are out there making it happen in new and innovative ways. Mischief Theatre have proven to be the masters of comedy over recent years with many hit productions including ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’, ‘Groan Ups’ and ‘Magic Goes Wrong’ and now with the theatres still closed up following the lockdown, this incredible group of performers have returned to their improvisation roots with an outdoor theatre tour of ‘Mischief Movie Night’.
There was that familiar buzz of excitement whipping around the auditorium of the beautiful Minack Theatre, known as Cornwall’s Theatre Under The Stars. Live theatre has been truly missed and it was clear to see that everyone there was thrilled to be back in a performance space once more. That happiness was also clear in the cast who brought bundles of energy and excitement to the stage. In this completely improvised show, film lover Oscar (Jonathan Sayer) takes suggestions from the audience and challenges the performers to create a brand new never been seen before (and never to be seen again) movie right before our very eyes.
With the amazingly funny and clever cast consisting of Henry Lewis, Bryony Corrigan, Joshua Elliot, Dave Hearn, Nancy Zamit, Ellie Morris, Henry Shields and Harry Kershaw, this performances audience suggestions included Australian zombies, Bollywood, Disney and horror, in a story all based in Coventry. With these suggestions, we were treated to the movie premiere of ‘Grandma’s House’, a Disney musical horror full of zombie’s, creepily funny laboratory equipment, strange experiments and a brother and sister desperately trying to find out the story of their long lost family. With Lewis as Jerry and Corrigan and Belinda, alongside Joshua Elliot’s strange story telling grandma and Zamit’s villainous Madame Geppetto and her gang of strange and twisted experiments, it was an adventure was beginning to end.
Hearn had the audience in stitches with his series of funny walks across the stage, and Kershaw proved a hit in his moments of completely not being sure what was happening, whether he was going on about yoghurt or doing a little bit of misplaced Saturday night fever in a dance moment. As Oscar, Sayer delights at constantly pausing the performance and trying to piece together the chaos as the plot twists and turns. His laughter at the ridiculousness of the story was infectious and rippled through the thrilled audience throughout, even when he was distracted by the beauty of the theatres ocean backdrop or a brief rainfall.
I am always amazed by improvisation performances and the way in which the cast members can seemingly read each others minds and know what to do next. That being said, one thing that made ‘Mischief Movie Night’ so brilliantly funny was the fact that the cast did not know what was going to happen next, and regularly slipped up or laughed at the story’s sudden twists and turns. From slip ups in the rhymes of the musical numbers, one idea suddenly becoming something different, character names picked at random or a hilarious moment of confusion between the words ‘relieve’ and ‘revive’, it really was laugh a minute and it was crystal clear that the cast were having just as much fun as the audience. The cast know each other so well, and just gel amazingly, and there was a great buzz of joy at being able to be be on stage again throughout the entire performance. I also have to recognise the musicians for their amazing ability to come up with new music at the drop of a hat.
I cannot explain the joy of being able to be back in a theatre again, and it all felt very safe. With the outdoor space and a gentle breeze blowing out to sea. The ushers did a great drop of ensuring social distancing, using a stick to measure between the family groups to make sure that everyone was spread out, pointing out the sanitising stations and even offering water bottle top up points in the warm weather. With the theatre feeling so safe and welcoming, and the show being so enjoyable and funny throughout, it really was a great day out. My parents and I really loved it. My dad isn’t the biggest theatre fan, but loved the ‘Goes Wrong Show’ so this proved a massive hit with him too. Mischief Movie Night was hilarious from start to end, and left us all with huge smiles on our faces, so thank you Mischief Theatre and we can not wait for the day when we can all be together again in full houses indoors just like the good times.