Image: The Improv Musical 2016 / Facebook

Review: The Pumpking and I – MTW’s Improv Musical

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Rating:

Never would I have ever imagined serum induced live ‘n’ kicking pumpkins to be the stars of a musical. Yet that is what MTW’s Improv Musical 2016 brought to life last night at Warwick Arts Centre. As it was an Improv Musical, the show was run by the audience – we chose two main characters, the setting of the musical, the title, and the name of the first song.

We settled on a ‘professional cat food maker’ and a ‘man who perpetually forgot why he walked into a room’ as our main characters. The musical named The Pumking and I was to be set on a pumpkin farm.

Never would I have ever imagined serum induced live ‘n’ kicking pumpkins to be the stars of a musical.

The show kicked off with Richard Odufisan’s soliloquy on pumpkins along with the first song of the night that the audience chose, ‘Pumpkin, pumpkin, so good, pumpkin, pumpkin, good good’. The sexual twist that Odufisan brought to the hilarious song set the mood for the exciting events that followed.

Richard’s Pumpkin Farmer brought us to a time in the past, where his father (Abhi Subramaniam) and his boss (Robin Kendall), both cat food researchers, were hard at work developing serum-induced pumpkin cat food. Abhi’s attempt to pull off ‘the man who perpetually forgot why he walked into a room’, though it had the potential to be a laughing riot, was not as comical as desired; but then, improvisation is no mean feat.

The audience decided to form a union of living pumpkins that revolt against their masters for better working conditions – in the form of a gospel.

Next, we encountered the birth of the first live dancing pumpkin (Branagh Crealock-Ashurst), soon followed by an army of three siblings. For me, Branagh stole the show. His improvised portrayal of an innocent living pumpkin, complete with leaves and wobbly roots and surprising ballet moves left the audience in splits. The cat food professionals decided to use their living pumpkin army to take over the cat food industry.

It was at this happy juncture that the host of the show proposed a pause, as things were getting “too smooth”. In order to shake things up, he wanted the audience to add an element they wish to see on stage. The audience decided to form a union of living pumpkins that revolt against their masters for better working conditions – in the form of a gospel. At first thought it sounds bizarre – something that could go very wrong very easily. However, it ended up creating one of the most hilarious nights of my life.

The innate ability of these individuals, actors and crew alike, to read the body language of others and respond to it left me in awe.

One cannot help but admire the ingenuity in constructing not just a plot and dialogues, but songs at a moment’s notice. The pianist and lighting crew wonderfully set the mood of show, with just the right music and lighting even though they had no means of communication with the cast. The innate ability of these individuals, actors and crew alike, to read the body language of others and respond to it left me in awe.

Leaving the power to decide the course of a show in the hands of its audience is dangerous – and I cannot help but laud these brave men and women. The look of panic on the faces of the actors when we made our strange choices was definitely one of the highlights of the night though.

The joy of performance comes from pleasing the audience and the Improv Musical does just that! The final show of this extremely well-received musical has been and gone, and it was with a heavy heart that I bid goodbye. I guess it’s time I moved to the Fringe anyway!

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