The bar for improvised musicals is set high in Edinburgh where comparisons can always be drawn with Fringe stalwarts Showstoppers!, but entering the dressed lecture hall of Assembly 1, the jamming four-piece band signalled Baby Wants Candy may be another beast altogether.
Taking nothing but the title of a musical from the audience, The Gherkin Who Was My Stepfather our case, this is long-form improv at its tightest and best-executed. Our musical's title opened the flood gates to a cast of anthropomorphic vegetables, a motley band led by an ambitious cucumber who saw beyond the limitations of a flowerbed to embark on a quest for the heart of the gardener.
The team certainly don't make things easy for themselves, our characters included an evil genius complete with snake and a set of conjoined twins who spoke - and sang - in unison, both taking the physical co-operation of a pair of actors whenever the character was called upon. This
The concocted musical was perfectly paced to fill the hour, with a varied mixture of numbers. This is where the magic of Baby Wants Candy really comes in. Possibly the hardest working member of the cast, a strong statement amongst the faultless team, has to be musical director Jody Shelton. Trying to accompany an improvised musical has always struck me as a dark art even when just playing piano, but Shelton not only contributes on keys, but keeps a tight reign on guitar, bass and drums with energy and precision. The band do not miss a beat.
Baby Wants Candy's approach to comedy cannot be faulted, with the plot gradually unwrapped, the jokes materialise. When our musical found an apparently spurious group of schoolgirls united with a band of vigilante vegetables they suddenly found their bulimia cured - and so it went on. The show is a testament to the quality of the improvisers, apparently never going for the simple option, they achieve witty, clever gags.