The Free Association Presents: The Wunderkammer

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12/08/16

Gilded Balloon @ The Counting House, Edinburgh

The Wunderkammer by Do Not Adjust Your Stage is an improv show with a difference. Rather than responding to audience suggestions – a formula we’re surely all accustomed to by now – the eight-strong team relies instead on invited guests speakers to provide them with inspiration.

It’s an interesting strategy, adding another dimension to the show and unleashing the potential for ideas to fly in all directions.

First up today we have magician Kevin Quantum. His tale of a half finished PhD and a discussion on the ethics of magic are both fascinating, if somewhat overshadowed by the impressive magic trick he performs at the end (how did he do that?), and pave the way for the troupe to develop some outlandish improvisations. Next up is Professor Sir Ian Wilmut, knighted for his role in cloning Dolly the sheep, who talks about gene selection and designer babies. It’s a more serious topic, perhaps too serious for the improvisations it sparks, which inevitably trivialise the scientific work that inspire them. There are some laughs though, not least when Matthew Stevens steps in, in role, to question the validity of the pseudo-science being spouted.

It’s a neat idea, with the benefit of built-in callbacks to ideas from the speeches, and, if it’s a little ramshackle, it’s endearingly so. These young performers aren’t quite as fluent as improv veterans such as Stu Murphy or Garry Dobson, but they’re entertaining nonetheless, and show a lot of promise. If you’ve a spare hour at lunchtime, you could do a lot worse than spend it here.

3.5 stars

Susan Singfield

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