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Theatre Review: Mischief Movie Night @ Cambridge Arts Theatre

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Mischief theatre’s Mischief Movie Night is a raucously funny, laid-back show.

The premise is simple: the cast perform a fully improvised movie based on audience suggestions, while a ‘viewer’ of the movie sits in a chair at the side with a TV remote. This viewer essentially acts as director, interrupting the movie as he sees fit by shouting ‘PAUSE’, causing the actors to freeze while he comments on the plot, gives prompts for what the next scene should hold, or just simply giggles at the ridiculousness of the action taking place on stage.

The high rate of interruptions from the director makes for a light-hearted show that doesn’t take itself too seriously. From made-up words to silly poses to ludicrous attempts to impersonate water, the mistakes and dubious acting or plot choices of the cast were ruthlessly pointed out and mocked by the director, much to the audience’s delight. It was clear throughout that both director and cast were having a good time, at several points barely managing to contain their own laughter. This enjoyment was contagious, and the director’s interruptions caused most of the biggest laughs on the night.

This format works extremely well and provides a useful safety net for the actors – turning mistakes or confusion into laughs. However, there were a couple of more serious blunders that couldn’t be explained away by the director, such as misunderstandings between actors over which character was which, and some weak musical numbers that seemed like actors were bursting into song for the sake of it, not really adding anything to the performance.

The plot became increasingly confused and nonsensical toward the end, but the actors just managed to retain control and steer it towards an ending which, while not really making any sense at all, was at least a neat and entertaining finish to the play. The show’s focus wasn’t really on plot direction, instead content to laugh at itself and bring the audience close to tears laughing along with it, both at the 'movie' itself and at the gleeful interruptions from the director. A light-hearted and hilariously silly show.

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