DDF: SATURDAY ‘Durham Improvised Musical’ by Durham Improvised Musical (obv.)
Fergus Leathem reviews ‘Durham Improvised Musical’ as part of (and the end of!) Durham Drama Festival 2011.
The instant reaction when someone hears the words ‘Improvised Musical’ is one typified by a look somewhere between shock and surprise, normally accompanied by the words ‘how the hell do they pull that off?’. Well, if Saturday’s performance was anything to go by, the answer is surely ‘with aplomb’.
[the] show was a self-styled ‘extra special’ offering…
This show was a self-styled ‘extra special’ offering, with not only the present DIM members on stage, but also a whole host of returnees from right back to the founding of Durham Improvised Musical. Given the vast number of performers on show, the thirteen DIMers were split into two randomly chosen groups to prevent a cast of thousands feel that could only be counterproductive, with the audience choosing their favourite character from the first show to be thrust into the second.
…it was Lynes’ pirate that won out in the popular vote…
After a bout of title, song and setting choosing by the audience it was on with the suitably zany ‘My Mother Ran Off with a Taxidermist’. Cue Sam Watkinson as a broken lighthouse, a stuffed Ben Salter, Ben Whittle and Becca Collingwood as an endearing old couple singing about stuffing pasties and a good old romp through the Cornish countryside, all ending in a merry family reunion and Ollie Lynes’ magical pirate hook saving the day. In the end it was Lynes’ pirate that won out in the popular vote over who would appear in part two of the DIM extravaganza.
Mike Shaw’s loud, aggressive, Kabala practicing Anglo-American-Irish MP (or was it Senator?) stole the show.
The second mini musical, ‘The Mystery of the Purple Fox’, whilst not quite as strong as ‘Taxidermist’, was still laced with moments of brilliance. Mike Shaw’s loud, aggressive, Kabala practicing Anglo-American-Irish MP (or was it Senator?) stole the show, whilst Matt Johnson’s rendition of his sheer joy at working in Tesco also standing as a particular highlight. A spate of impromptu weddings, Westminster breakfasts and scandal over Purple Fox meat in the nations supermarkets ensued, with barely a moment for either us or the cast to draw breath, ensured a resounding finish to an hour of genuine hilarity, which was rightly rewarded with the Best Comedy Award at the D’aftas.
Given that it is highly unlikely we will ever see this crop of DIMers together again, and given the clear joy that both the audience and cast alike experienced, it really did live up to that ‘extra special’ tag. To this reviewers mind, there could be no finer way to round off what has been another spectacular, hectic and thoroughly enjoyable Festival. Roll on 2012!