A million years B.C., when I was a first-year drama student, we were encouraged to tit about with improvisation and gradually take, from the frankly ludicrous scenarios and inane characterisations we invented every wet Friday afternoon of the Autumn term, some semblance of a skill set which could be useful in actual acting performance, if any of us made it into the profession – which at the last count only two of us did. And one of those gave it up after three weeks.

What we manifestly didn’t do was invite paying customers to observe the painful processes, which is the first mistake perpetrated by the No Shoes Theatre Company in its mostly execrable Improvised Musical which shows its shameful face at 6.30pm nightly in C Venues in Chambers Street.

The press release says the ‘energetic company’ has worked on productions of ‘Sweet Charity’, Jason Robert Brown’s ‘Songs for a New World’ and ‘I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change’. Clearly they learned nothing from this collective experience, since not one of them can put together a coherent melody line or a quatrain of lyrics without dead air pauses, mugging at his fellow cast members and the audience, or dissolving into self-indulgent giggles.

We might have struck them on a bad night. Somebody should have.

They invite the audience to propose a title, a theme song, and a location for the show. Our audience chose the location as a Job Centre, on the grounds that it would be good preparation for them, and despite it being a situation which would be largely familiar to most of the population, these actors couldn’t posit a plot, or realistic characters, or a song which had any site-specific relevance or commentary. Their lack of imagination was breathtakingly poor and they conspicuously failed to bring the plot to any kind of resolution in the painful hour during which they kicked it around like a dead rat in a midden.

They are hampered by a ‘band’ comprising keyboard, drums and something which scarcely made an impact, which has a collection of vamps-till-ready so interchangeable and anodyne that there’s no possibility of anyone launching into a recognisable ‘musical theatre’ genre.

The only countervailing comment is that you might admire their tenacity in persevering with a production which so frequently defies their own abilities. They aver that this is part of the ‘experience’ of the piece, and that there’s validity in the activity even on nights when it all falls apart. As an exercise in gestalt therapy for embryo actors, you could agree. But not for paying customers.

The Public ReviewsOriginally published on The Public Reviews.