Showstopper – the Garrick Theatre, Charing Cross London & The Palace Theatre, Watford. Check dates with theatre. 5*****. William Russell.

For a Christmas treat you could not do better than catch up with Showstopper, the “improv” artists who create musicals on demand. Check the dates with the theatres as they vary. The Garrick press night in spite of a theatre which felt it was about to house the Covid vaccine was a riot of laughter.
As always the chairman asks the audience to suggest musicals whose style they could copy, for a theme and places in which the action could take place. It is all decided on stage by the compere, which means that there is time to decide which routine to follow – the last time I saw them Hamilton inevitably came up as did the name Lloyd Webber – and then swiftly adapt things to suit the occasion. This time e theme was out of work actors so we were treated to Sirm the greatest Lear of his generation, reduced to working in a caff who decides to to save the day be creating a performance with some of his one time colleagues, one of whom he kept failing to recognise, in a lost theatre somewhere or other of a drama of some sort. Judging by the hilarity at which the jokes caused members of the profession accounted for a substantial amount of the audience. But no matter, it was funny for all and the skill with which the man on keyboards summoned up the sound of music as it were, without actually playing anything recognisable, is dazzling as was the way each performer responds to the others.
The 75 plus minutes were a delight from beginning to end – I have been when the audience shouted suggestions rather than texted them, but thing is it is which one gets picked is what matters and the compere does the picking. As for the impossible suggestions like Chernobyl the trick is to ignore it in terms of plot or location but to drop the word in somewhere outrageously inappropriate, thus leaving the audience satisfied that its suggestions are being taken on board.
Showstopper is live theatre at its best – it has been done on line but somehow it never quite works as it does in real life.

Chair – Dylan Emery.
Cast – Andrew Ougset, Adam Meggido, Pippa Evans, Aku James, Justin Brett.
Cover – Philip Pellew.
Musical Director & Keys – Duncan Walsh Atkins.
Percussion: Alex Atty.

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