I was walking down Frederick Street the other day on my way home to write up some Fringe reviews for EdinburghGuide when I was politely accosted by a couple of performers outside Fingers Piano Bar. It was 3.10pm. I was informed that their show Hoopla Impro was about to start. The good news was that their show is free and secondly that the bar was open. Well, perhaps my reviews can wait an hour.
Whose Line Is It Anyway? was originally a British radio series, moving over to television in 1988, followed ten years later with a cult version on American ABC television. The programme consists of a panel of four performers who create characters, scenes and songs on the spot, in the style of short, pacy improvisation games. This is the inspiration behind this original fringe show featuring a group of comedy actors from London.
The bar was packed out but I managed to find a seat right at the front. Don't worry - no one is dragged on stage. The host, Edgar, does a quick warm up act, enticing the audience to participate, join in and generally have fun. Then he introduces Chris, Jackie, Steve and Sarah (the panel members change daily from a larger team) and the show begins. Topics for improvised sketches are based on audience suggestions which are then acted out with ad hoc direction and prompting by Edgar, who switches actors, roles and theatrical style.
An entertaining hour moves between various parlour and word play games - such as a conversation on a given subject without using the letter S. Without a prepared script, characters or plot, the four comic actors perform with endearing charm a series of improvised stories and dramatised scenes to create a quick paced, inventive and witty show. Not a bad way to spend a free afternoon on the Fringe! (Just add a contribution to company funds in their yellow bucket on the way out).
Times: 8-29 August, 3.10pm