The Imps are all about improvisation and this latest show is no exception. If you’ve been to anything they’ve done before, you’ve seen how they work the same word or idea in many unexpected ways.

This show continues with their trademark audience involvement and improvisation. Here they use just five performers and the energy level felt muted; of course that could be due to the grey Thursday evening, but it was disappointing.

The other consequence of the small cast was that the characters could be confused easily as roles changed raidly. The lack of props makes the characterisation all the more important and, although in some cases this was handled well, greater consistency was needed.

Details aside, the acting was quite impressive and the cast seemed to be enjoying themselves. The second half revisits the first half’s scenarios with an ambitious twist, yet this wasn’t really pulled off well. The idea of setting the first half’s scenarios in the past is a good idea but was not always convincingly executed. The choice of time period relies on the audience.

There were some good moments when the actors managed to include a few references to the World Wars or other topical details, but even these were not that funny. Transforming a scene set at a bus stop in the first half, to one at a tram stop in the second is clever but not in itself humorous.

The concept is probably too ambitious because it demands that the actors know the appropriate vocabulary and social customs for whichever time period the audience choose and that they must convey this without props or costume.
The idea is an ingenious one, but I’m sceptical about whether even the Imps at their best could do this and I don’t think they were at their best during the preview. Despite this, it is still a fun way to spend an hour or so, and it will be interesting to see how the show changes when it is on next week.

two stars

IMPerium is at the BT Studio, 23-27 Feb, 19.00