Off the Top with Jason Kravits. Crazy Coqs, 24 Sherwood Street, London W1 to 19 January 2020. 4****. William Russell.

Off the Top
Created by Jason Kravits
Crazy Coqs at Live at Zedel, 20 Sherwood Street, London W1F 7ED to 19 January 2020.
Runs 1hr 10 mins.
TICKETS: 020 7734 4888

Review: William Russell 13 January.

Before your very eyes and with some help from the audience Jason Kravits improvises this splendid and very funny cabaret show. Improv is an art and he is a master – a familiar face on American television, he has appeared in the Big Bang Theory and was in the last instalment of Friends, he has played on Broadway and his improve shows are seen regularly at the famous Birdland theatre. Backed by a first rate trio and with different guest stars each night – the improv actress Ruth Bratt was there on press night – he works from suggestions made by the audience who get to fill in questionnaires suggesting names, phrases and places beforehand. These get drawn from a goldfish bowl and off he goes creating songs with the aid of a remarkable pianist to meet the moment. It is, of course, subtly structured – some of it is of the moment, some is using the suggested words and fitting them in to existing routines – but it is all done before your very eyes. Tulsa, suggested as where he came from, was much mocked on opening night, and he had to fit in things like rowing boats and Grimsby and whatever the audience had come up with as he went along. His Sondheim song was a delight, a response to what would you attempt if you knew you could not fail? Pianist John Thom caught the Sondheim melodic clichés perfectly and Kravits came up with the immortal line – “Be my nail, I’ll be your hammer.” Bratt joined in with glee, managing an amazing duet which seemed conjured out of the air. It was a master class in the art of improv, a demonstration of how to seize an audience’s attention and hold it, and how to make the audience like you. Improv is not a play, not a musical, but it is theatre and this was first rate theatre.

Jason Kravits
Ruth Bratt

John Thom – piano
Jonny Gee – bass
Sophie Alloway – drums.
Production photograph: Danny Kaan.

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