Beating a dead horse at the Barron

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Blind Mirth Improv Comedy

The Barron, Oct 15, 8pm

**

Blind Mirth have acquired quite the reputation, not only within St Andrews, but around Scotland following their fantastic showing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Known for their quick wits, clever and composed improvised comedy, I arrived at the Barron Theatre for one of their (free to the public) Monday night gigs with high expectations.

The show was split into Short Form and Long Form improv, with the first half consisting of the former. These are quick and quirky games which require just three to four randomly chosen actors and bit of audience participation. These games were familiar to the regular attendees who cheered enthusiastically at the mention of favourites, particularly Mr Know It All and Party Quirks. The cast excelled in this half of the show generating eager participation and uproarious laughter within the audience.

The second half of the show was devoted to Long Form, essentially an improvised play, which brought far more sporadic and occasionally forced laughter. The beauty of improv comedy is in the anticipation – however, a fantastic improv performance allows the audience to relax without fear of blank silences and awkward pauses. This was not the case. The Long Form sketch could be described as beating a dead horse. While there were the occasional bursts of laughter, these were often bourn of sympathy rather than genuine amusement and I found myself cringing during the more painful tangents.

While, the cast of four women and four men had a fairly easy rapport and seemed to genuinely amuse one another as well as the audience, good improv is born of trust and their trust in each other visibly wavered at times, perhaps due to the graduation of several members last spring and their subsequent replacement just under a month ago. This contributed to the unpolished quality of the show. The gig was also extremely informal which, while lending a casual, ‘just drop by’ quality, also made the awkward moments more acute for their close proximity.

Blind Mirth delivered a relatively entertaining, but clumsy performance. Still, I am inclined to chalk up the rough patches up to the relative inexperience of a portion of the group and given time to ‘gel’ I am certain Blind Mirth will once again live up to their hype. I recommend taking advantage of these free performances provided you keep your expectations low and see it for what it is right now: a public practice.

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