The London Jam 2017: Almost Ibsen at Wilton’s Music Hall
It’s the London Jam at Wilton’s Music Hall, where skilled acting groups treat theatre-goers to bespoke improvisations. There is something for everyone in this six-day jamboree, a festival of thespian spontaneity, which is set to culminate in an epic 50-hour Lord of Thrones improvathon.
Tuesday evening and the audience clamour to be entertained by the Norwegian Almost Ibsen acting group, a company comprising Torgny G Aanderaa, Nils Petter Mørland and their special guest Charlotte Gittins. These are talented practitioners of the improvised arts, who create one-act Ibsen-style plays through nothing but the prompts from the audience and their own versatility on the stage.
They ask theatre-goers for a relationship, occupation, object and a title, and we end up with a name worthy of Ibsen: The Darkness of the Fjords emerges as our title. Such interactivity in shaping the play is exhilarating and really drums up enthusiasm in the audience. However, once the performance commences, the fourth wall convention is respected.
This is a tale about a cosmopolitan veterinarian (Mørland) returning to his rural beginnings and entering employment with a wealthy landowner, who is played by Torgyny. However, this quaint pastoral set-up isn’t to last. The landowner’s wife, played to perfection by Gittins, is trapped like a caged bird in matrimony and pines after freedom and the affections of the veterinarian.
The goings-on are initially hilarious, particularly the wife’s crude seduction attempts, however the mood soon dampens. A faithful Ibsen imitation requires a dollop crashing of tragedy. Cue the son of the household, who comes home, forcing his father to confront a shipwrecked marriage. Heated arguments ensue and some very convincing family drama culminates with the father downing himself in the Fjord.
There is a particularly satisfying scene, where the husband lambasts his wife for being a cold and venomous creature, or rather a rotten pineapple, which is the object prompt supplied by the audience at the beginning of the show, and the ludicrously random item is tied into the play so adeptly by Torgyny, that it could have been the most famous line in a script. This was improvisation at its very best. Slick, assured and brilliant.
The end result was, as Ken Campbell would have it, “better than scripted stuff”.
The London Jam and Improvathon is at Wilton’s Music Hall from 16th until 22nd January 2017, for further information or to book visit here