The Oxford Imps’ Edinburgh Fringe show is consistently high energy and entertaining. Each of the performers brings something different and uniquely hilarious to the group, and yet what is most impressive is how they play off each other and work together seamlessly. All are incredibly versatile and quick-thinking, responding to audience suggestions with creativity and flair. I was particularly impressed by Sophie Ward’s versatility, uproariously funny as everything from a sexually frustrated Egyptologist to a romantic cow – or even just in reacting to her fellow Imps’ comedy.
The hour, which raced by far too quickly, is organised into several short ‘games.’ The audience is asked to provide a few prompts, which are then used imaginatively in the group’s improvisations. In the performance I saw, games ranged from a dialogue (in this case between the two amorous Egyptologists), during which the pair had to slip into rap when the music kicked in, to spontaneous quips reminiscent of Mock the Week’s ‘scenes we’d like to see.’
Perhaps my favourite was a game in which the Imps asked for a relationship and a few genres from the audience, and ended up enacting the interactions between a surfer and their board in the style of Film Noir, cabaret, romantic comedy and mime. This game particularly demonstrated the Imps’ impressive capacity to be slick and witty, even while utterly silly.
The final section of the show involved a complete, albeit ridiculous, improvised musical. Given only the location of a farm and the title, ‘Bucket,’ the Imps and their guest Katy Schutte gave a rib-splitting and impressively harmonious performance. They improvised genuinely catchy, though crazy, songs about farming, moving to the country from the big city, and the dangers of falling in love with a cow. Even as events became increasingly nutty, the humour was tight and well crafted, and the singing was genuinely wonderful to listen to.
Watch the Oxford Imps at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for an hour of lighthearted and hilarious comedy, which you won’t want to end.