50-hour Improvathon at LOST Theatre
Preparation is an actor’s best friend. That time between initial script reading and performance can be taken for granted. Perhaps preparation can never be fully appreciated until an actor has stood on stage, with no script, a constantly evolving plot, and no sleep, for the duration of an entire weekend. And this actually happens once a year, for the 50-hour Improvathon.
As to the mechanics of the event, the clue is in the name, but in the interests of elaboration – or clarification of a seemingly absurd idea – the Improvathon is this: 50 hours straight of improvised comedy-drama from a core cast of 20 top improvisers, who go without sleep between 7pm Friday to 9pm Sunday to flounder their way through one long, continuous narrative. It’s broken down into two-hour episodes that the audience can come and go to as they please, or devotees can purchase a 50-hour pass. Some people even stay and watch the entire thing.
The current show is set aboard the Orient Express. The first two hours see the cast departing from London, introducing viewers to the likes of ostentatious Raj with his entourage of backing dancers, calamitous nuns Sister Act 1 and Sister Act 2 and the melodramatic Bruce Wayne, who announces early on that he has lost both his parents to a brutal butchering incident.
It’s these off-the-cuff lines that shape the storyline, which actors are then compelled to follow. The ramshackle nature of the production produces mixed results: the improvised elements add a natural and exhilarating feel to interactions – two people speaking at once is an everyday reality that never quite finds its way into scripted dialogue. Also charming is the show’s intentionally second-rate production values, with actors alluding to unrealistic train dimensions as they stride about the roomy stage.
The main drawback is the over reliance on obvious jokes and over-frequent callbacks, however the show is as much about the event as it is the play itself, and the most interesting part will be when the delirium and hallucinations kick in from lack of sleep. Director Adam Meggido speaks of the mind’s inability to censor after the 30-hour mark, which has the potential to throw up some bizarre ideas. As it does, the addictively fluid storyline begs a question every two hours: do you step off the train? Or will you still be aboard the Orient Express when it terminates?
50-hour Improvathon runs continuously at LOST Theatre until 9pm on 1st May 2016, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch the trailer for Improvathon here: