This Thursday, Trevor Fleming and Lewis Bray bring you their new improv double act, performing an entirely improvised one act play based on audience suggestions down at 81, Renshaw. Members of improv group Impropriety, Fleming and Bray are no strangers to long form, and in the last year you might have seen them powering through the fifth annual “Improvathon”, a deliriously wonderful beast of a show that spanned 33.5 hours, or soaping it up as part of “Room Service”, the six week improvised Soap Opera. We spoke to one half of the whole, Trevor Fleming, about Ken Campbell, developing characters, and unwelcome audience suggestions…
How did you get into improv?
My first real taste of improv came when I did a show at the Everyman theatre called Farting Around in Disguises. It was directed by Ken Campbell, who as we all know was a bit of a maverick, to put it mildly. After Ken’s sad passing in 2008 a Festival was held in his honour, and part of it was a 2008 minute long Improvathon featuring local actors, improvisors from Canada and London, and LIPA students. It was a life changing experience – from there a few of us formed Impropriety.
Why have you decided to create the fusion duo that is IMPROssible?
Lewis and I love performing together. One of my all time favourite scenes was with him in our first weekly soap The Regenerates in 2010. I was playing his dad and he did this mime door thing and we just riffed off each other. He constantly makes me laugh, intentionally or not. Plus this way we get loads of stage time guaranteed!
What do you see as the benefits of long form improv over short form?
You can get to know the characters and go on journeys with them, find out who they are, and what the world they inhabit is like. It’s not that there isn’t a place for that in short form, but I think you get a much rounder experience , as an audience member, from long form. The laughs come from a much more complete place.
Improv is most often listed as comedy rather than anything else, but by definition could encompass any genre. Do you set out with comedy in mind or is it something that occurs organically?
For IMPROssible, and I’m sure many long form shows, the story and characters come first and the comedy will come out naturally. We are both comic actors and generally set out to make you laugh, but we are actors after all, and if we get a chance to tug on the heart strings then we’ll do that. If it feels natural that is, you should never force the strings.
Audience suggestions can be perilous – what’s the most unexpected thing you’ve ever been given by the audience?
I once asked for “Something that shouldn’t be made into a musical”, the audience shouted out NINE ELEVEN! – so we did it. I’ll let your imagination fill in how that went. I meant to say, can we have a tv show or film that would make a terrible musical, but I got my words wrong – and wrongness ensued!
You can see That’s IMPROssible! on the 11th December at 81 Renshaw. Show Starts 8pm, £3 on the door. More details here. As well as the improvised play, the night offers support from Impropriety’s Owen Scrivens and stand up Alastair Clark. Like them on Facebook for all the latest details.