Good improv comedy always requires a careful balancing act - an
audience which is too rowdy or too quiet, a nervous cast member or an
upstaging performer can drastically affect the performance. By adding
music to the mix, Showstopper! runs even more of a risk; in the
wrong hands this set-up could be a complete disaster. Fortunately, the
cast, musicians and technical crew deliver a clever and impressive
show which is a joy to watch.
The biggest audience laughs come from songs where the performers are
restricted by audience suggestion and the on-stage direction of Dylan
Emery; they shine when given scenarios, characters or artists to
interpret. However, the troupe keeps control of the show throughout,
maintaining plot continuity, character and musical harmony - very ably
assisted in doing so by an on-stage band directed by Duncan
Walsh-Atkins. It's clear that they take the principles of improv, and
the musical quality of the show, very seriously - and the performance
is all the better for it.
A show about musicals is always at risk of a few cheesy moments, and
Showstopper!'s opening gambit - a staged phone conversation
with the producer, "Cameron" - is heavy on exposition and comes across
as slightly clumsy. However, the cast manage to keep West End in-jokes
to a minimum, and as the performance gathers steam it goes from
strength to strength.
The cast of Showstopper! have managed to craft a slick,
confident comedy show well worth seeing. Of course, the performance
will be different every night - but with this kind of talent, it's a
safe bet for a great night out.