Shhh: An Improvised Silent Movie (2 stars)

Shhh: An Improvised Silent Movie

An underplayed and occasionally unpleasant improv show

One of the joys of watching a successful improvised show is the feeling (however misplaced) of co-authorship. It's a special kind of alchemy when the audience's disparate suggestions coalesce, thanks to the professionals on stage, into a unique performance, never to be repeated. Italian troupe i Bugiardini deny us this chance as they create their whole performance based on one single suggestion, with a small variable added to the mix later on. Not only that but, after asking for a show theme based on an occupation, the performers dismiss the first suggestion out of hand. It's an inauspicious start.

In order to maintain the illusion that we're watching a silent film, the show is performed behind a fabric screen upon which a series of intertitle cards are displayed throughout, although the effect is to distance the audience from the performers on stage.

They're clearly accomplished physical actors, but much of their work is underplayed and their smaller gestures are difficult to read through the screen. When the action very occasionally livens up it injects some excitement into the room, but that seldom happens. And there's no excuse at all for a deeply unpleasant portrayal of a Chinese character.

C, until 18 Aug, 4.20pm, £9.50–£11.50 (£5.50–£9.50).

Shhh – An Improvised Silent Movie

  • 2 stars

i Bugiardini (Italy) A completely improvised silent movie accompanied by live ragtime piano music, inspired by the films and ambience of the 1920s. Every day, six actors and a piano player will create a new play on the spot, inspired by the masterpieces of Chaplin, Lloyd and many other silent stars. An international…

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