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  • Olivia Cox

Review - The Improvised Play

Arcola Theatre

Playing until: 9th March 2024

Review {AD-PR Invite}

Personally, I often enjoy going to the theatre with zero prior knowledge of the show I’m about to see or what I ought to expect. If you go to see The Improvised Play, you have no choice but to go in blind. As the name suggests, the entire show is completely improvised!


Created by and starring Lola-Rose Maxwell and Charlie Kemp, The Improvised Play is a 60-70 minute long show about, well, whatever the audience suggests it should be about.


The set consists of a table, two chairs, a sofa, and various other interchangeable props and costumes strewn about, prepared for practically any scenario. Maxwell and Kemp kick things off by explaining the show’s unique premise. It’s then up to the audience to set the scene (literally) by suggesting the decade the play should take place in, its location, and its title. Last night, the audience settled on a play set in Rome in the 1970s, fittingly titled When In Rome.


From there, the fate of the play is left entirely in the hands of Maxwell and Kemp. Which, as we soon realise, are two extremely capable pairs of hands indeed. It’s clear that these two performers are very comfortable on stage with each other, which translates into a joyously playful dynamic between their two characters as they bounce off each other’s increasingly wacky plot ideas.


I could give you a full rundown of the plot of When In Rome… but that might be a tad redundant given that the entire story will change in every other show. Let’s just say it featured surprisingly forgiving mafia members, a questionable knowledge of Italian history, and some very unorthodox handbags.


Despite conversations occasionally feeling like they were continued a few moments too long to fill out the promised runtime, every scene packed in plenty of laughs while demonstrating Maxwell and Kemp’s knack for characterisation and pristine attention to detail.


Between them, this pair of improv experts created a highly entertaining and utterly bonkers play that somehow maintained a solid three-act structure while also being almost completely farcical. If you are looking for a laugh-a-minute production that’ll keep you wondering where on earth the plot is going to take you next, The Improvised Play is a wildly good time.


Created by and starring: Lola-Rose Maxwell and Charlie Kemp

Producer: Billie Hakansson

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