the school of night, king’s place


The School Of Night
The School Of Night

I mentioned quite recently how much I love King’s Place, and especially the improv comedy that we have seen there recently.

A couple of weeks ago we saw the fabulous ‘The School of Night‘.

All I had kind of taken from the listing was that this was going to be ‘improvised Shakespeare’. I know – I kept thinking “How on earth is improvised Shakespeare going to work AND be funny?” – I was tempted to apologise to my mate in advance for dragging him out to something so odd, but I didn’t…we only paid £9.50 after all, and everything’s an experience.

I really needn’t have worried. We were in stitches throughout. This was exceedingly clever comedy. The very first ‘act’ saw the players takng random books from the audience, and getting another audience member to pick a page to start reading from.  The player started reading, and then after a couple of minutes, the book was taken away, and they carried on narrating in the same style. You simply couldn’t tell at which point they had stopped reading and started improvising. Clever stuff!

Our Shakespeare play, formed from suggestions shouted from the audience featured ‘a famous person’, which someone gave, “Scott of the Antartic” and they laughed and said that perhaps the antartic wasn’t very Shakespearian, so could we suggest somewhere else cold and grim. “Sunderland!” was the response. And somewhere he could be? “At a factory!” And what could the factory be making? And this was my moment! I actually had my suggestion woven into an improv comedy. “JAM!!”  And would this be a comedy, historical, a tragedy?  A tragedy decided the audience!

So, King Scott of Sunderland started off in a jam factory and ended up traversing the seas to the Antartic in a tragic Shakespearian tale.

And it was wonderful, it was hilarious, and it was indeed tragic. There were bad omens, ghosts, murder and odd comedic characters that you couldn’t understand what they were going on about, but were ripe with innuendo.  Perfect!

If you have half a brain (or preferably a whole one), make sure you get to see this fabulous troupe – they will not disappoint!  They are playing various festivals and of course the Edinburgh Fringe.  I hope they come back to London soon so I can see them again, and take ALL my friends 🙂

“confessions” by the maydays, king’s place

The Maydays

King’s Place has become quite a favourite venue of mine.  Not only is it very easy for me to get to both from work and to/from home, their two halls aren’t VERY big, and therefore all seats get a good view…and if you book online and are happy to be allocated a seat on the day ALL performances are just £9.50!


Due to this, I’ve already tried a couple of new things that I may not necessarily have come across – the D’arcylicious Austentatious (who we have since seen again elsewhere) and the excellent Storytellers’ Club.  I have also been regularly going to the amazing Not So Silent Movies on a Sunday afternoon – but more on that another time.

it seems to be a place to discover great improv comedy, as we found last week when we went along to enjoy The Maydays and their ‘Confessions’ show.

Audience members are invited to write down a confession which are then all placed in a pot on the stage.  Confessions can be anything – from stealing a penny sweet when you were six to cheating with your sister’s boyfriend (I think that did actually come up as a ‘what you could have had’ at the end.)

The troupe (ably assisted by not-Richard Vranch at the piano – I think his name was Joe) then improvise either a sketch, song or combination of both ON THE SPOT! WITH HARMONIES AND EVERYTHING!!

Some confessions are naturally more comedic than others, but it’s not necessarily the confession that secures the laughter.  One person on our night had written a confession that contained exstensive emoticons and exclamation marks etc and instead of concentrating just on the confession, they wove using emoticons verbally with other expressive noises into a sketch. and it was good. and we all laughed heartily!

In the final half, they invite someone to ‘confess’ in front of the audience, giving a bit more meat and background to their confession, and they then performed a series of sketches and songs based on that one confession. I think we were particularly lucky to have a meaty confession concerning drugs being brought back through border control on a coach after working in Holland for a few months.

There was a lot of mileage in that one – but, The Maydays didn’t actually just go for all the obvious ones, and sometimes they went off at such a tangent, you could see the troupe members who weren’t performing cracking up at what was going on at some points.

And I think that summed it up – they obviously know each other well, can read each other, love what they do and are bloody good at it!

They usually appear at the Leicester Square Theatre (same as Austentatious!) but will also be at the Brighton Fringe (as that’s where they’re based).  And they run Improv Comedy Classes too – how tempting is that!?

austentatious – king’s place


On Thursday, I went along to my first experience of Austentatious.  I say ‘first experience’ because I enjoyed it so much that I will definitely be going along to see them again!

Austentatious is a show from ‘The Milk Monitors’.  It is a complete hour-long improvised comedy story loosely-based on the works of Jane Austen.

Before they begin, they pass round a basket to be filled with title-suggestions from the audience.  This gives the theme for the play to be loosely based on.  (If anyone used to listen to the marvellous ‘The Masterson Inheritence’ on Radio 4 in the 90’s, but repeated frequently on 4Extra, it is exactly the same idea!)

Previous show titles have included Man-filled Park, Pride & Predator, Mr Arsey, Tents & Tent Stability…the list is (almost) endless.

During the intro, two or three titles are blindly picked out that ‘almost made the cut’, and then the actual title is picked out…and on Thursday, the randomly chosen title was ‘Tax & Taxability‘.

Our story was based in Hemel Hempstead, starred Lady Beatrice Beatrice and Pastor Parson amongst others and featured a scandal, a grand ball, lost wealth, plenty of blessings and lashings and lashings of gin.

It was hilarious!  The cast know their Austen, and they work with each other so effortlessly.  The parts where they forgot their names, or whether they were a Lord or a Viscount or stumbled over silly phrases or forgotten words for things wasn’t brushed off, it was embraced and referred to later to aid the continuity (eg, the Lord claimed to have lost his vast wealth by not paying his taxes).

It was totally enjoyable, and the way that they wrapped it up exactly within the hour gave it the time to be fabulous without starting to grate or get ‘samey’.  Me and my mate are planning to go to another show in a couple of months.

Also, when I checked out their website, you can imagine how delighted I was to read this:

“Austen is understood to have written a number of lost novels, novellas, cartoons and plays. Some of these appear to have been irrevocably damaged by fire or exposure; others are believed to have been misplaced by publishers; a few may have been purposefully destroyed by Austen herself. Most recently a collection of 576 of her short stories was found behind the bins of the Walthamstow Lidl, much to our delight.”

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