15th – 27th August | Pleasance Dome | Ace Dome | Get Tickets
You’ve seen them in planets across the galaxy, you’ve seen them adventure through the eras, you’ve even seen them spend an inordinate amount of time in modern day London, but you’ve never seen The Doctor take on the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Enter Any Suggestions Improv.
Immediately recognised as a true whovian in the crowd (having nerdishly donned my TARDIS hoody) we were presented with pen and paper and asked to write down an episode title and upon providing a location (of Sir David Attenborough’s Scalp) we were off into a never before seen and never to be seen again episode of Doctor Who entitled The Destruction of the Jelly Babies.
The Doctor was portrayed superbly by Harry Whittaker as, after many decades of seeing this British icon on the screen, we finally get to see him as a Welshman! And after years of Tom Baker’s Doctor carelessly consuming Jelly Babies we finally see one get their own back attempting to rise up against the human raise and convert them all into gelatinous masses just like them.
On a whirlwind tour through the BBC Studios Dermatoglogical Department, The Doctor, with the help of his companion, Fiona Bruce and Brian Cox, *SPOILER ALERT* saves the day and planet earth is once again safe from Complete Takeover.
All of the cast are clearly incredibly knowledgeable on this classic sci-fi show but also excellent at their craft of improvisation and quick-witted comedic timing. Of all the offerings of improvisation at the Fringe (0f which there are countless) this has to be up there with the best of them. Any Suggestions Improv have a level of finesse like that of the greats, a young Mischief Theatre springs to mind (creators of The Goes Wrong Shows.)
But Doctor Who is about so much more than just The Doctor, it’s about the caring companions and the terrifying baddies, it’s about travelling through time and space and an awful lot of running. Any Suggestions Improv really find the heart of this TV series and the reason it’s been running for nearly 60 years. The remind us of all the reasons we love Doctor Who and as part we can only love them right back.
The Arts Business Top Tips:
- Popular Parody: I mention this every year at the Fringe but pick a popular show and it sells. As a mega whovian (as I may have already mentioned a few times,) I seek out Doctor Who shows on at the Fringe every year and I guarantee I’m not alone. By picking out TV shows like Friends or films like Harry Potter which already have a major fan base behind them you are bound to find an audience! And, parody has its own copyright laws which means it is seen as its own artform (so don’t worry, you won’t get sued).
- Quality Crew: Fully improvised shows are made or broken on the quick-thinking ability of their technical crew and they deserve a massive shout out here. During my training I was once told the best way to gauge quality sound and lighting is to find a way that the crowd doesn’t notice it, where it blends into the background perfectly complimenting what’s happening onstage. This is exactly what is achieved here. The sound effects and lighting seamlessly move with the action as if this was completely rehearsed which is a difficult feat perfectly executed throughout this performance.
Aug 22-29 | Varied Times | Gilded Balloon | Learn More about their UK tour
For anyone who doesn’t know (or has spent their entire life with their head in a cardboard box) J. K. Rowling lives in Edinburgh and it’s where she wrote the majority of the Harry Potter series. This is why, unsurprisingly, ANYTHING Harry Potter related does very well in Scotland’s capital!
And what does really well at any fringe, theatre or comedy festival? That would be Improv!
So, basically, The Spontaneous Players are onto an absolutely winning formula here. With some simple marketing and the existent following of this comedy troupe they are bound to sell out every fringe! It doesn’t really matter if the shows any good…
…which it is! It’s brilliant.
Just pick a title, which in our case was Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Andrew, and away we go.
The clear experience and unity of this group shines through in their performance. They have a great knowledge of the films and books (bar one which is used as a hilarious gimmick). They’re a little too focused on gags rather than story so it did drag in places and they need to work on the corpsing, but it’s great fun and well worth a watch especially if you’re a fan of the Harry Potter universe and even if you’re not!
The Arts Business Top Tips:
- In general, to produce content or products around existing ideas that are still in copyright you need to pay a licensing fee. This is unless you create a parody! Therefore, it is well worth learning your parody laws. Parody is viewed as an art form in itself, and iconic Fandoms like Harry Potter, Game of Thrones or Doctor Who, already have a following which is an existing market and audience for you to tap into. To learn more about Parody Laws check out this awesome article from the Copyright User.
- Location is key! Harry Potter has strong links with Edinburgh which is why it works well in the city. The Spontaneous Players have previously performed Spontaneous Sherlock also iconic in Scotland as Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes Series attended the University of Edinburgh. So, think about your location and use it to your advantage: for example, I live in Birmingham which is renowned for being home to J. R. R. Tolkien who wrote the Lord of the Rings.
Aug 11-14 | 16.05 | theSpace @ Surgeons Hall | Get Tickets
If you haven’t seen some improvisational comedy in Edinburgh, then you haven’t done the fringe properly! And what better way to watch than with these improv fringe veterans, Blind Mirth from St Andrews University!
First half improv games, to get you in the swing of exactly what their company is about, second half fully improv-ed play there is something for any fringe goer to enjoy.
Highlights include a police interview in which our suspect must guess the crime, location, and accomplice from her interrogator’s conversation, a Mock the Week staple inspired from scenes we’d like to see, like which prime ministers are the worst at their job, or why sex with Blind Mirth is like a watermelon and an ask me anything (about sandwiches) machine.
Always very funny and featuring a couple of cast members with absolute stand out talent, this is completely worth your time this fringe!
Although their long-form storytelling was a little bit ropey the best thing about this performance by far is the fact that despite the difficulties of the last year they’re down here and their doing it and they’re having the best time! And their energy is completely contagious.
Today is your last day to see it, but I don’t doubt they’ll be back next year!
The Arts Business Top Tips:
- If you have any creative interests and you’re a university student, no matter what it is you’re taking, get involved! Go through your student union and see what groups are available to you. If there’s nothing catering exactly to what you want, then start your own society. Student Unions are separately funded to unis themselves and, if you have a compelling enough society idea, they have pots of money put aside especially for you to explore this! And it is relatively easy to establish. Whilst I was at uni myself and fellow students established two student theatre companies through our SU and created work we simply wouldn’t have had the option to if it was left to our own funding.