We go live to the courtroom where the case of The Crown vs the improvised theatrical entertainment “Criminally Untrue” is underway.
SCD: ” Yes. From left to right, I believe that is Lorna Rose Treen, Orla Newmark and Will Hughes and lying down is Jonathan Oldfield.“
Defence: “And how did you find their show?“
SCD: “I…don’t remember“.
Defence: “From Saturday? Nothing?“
SCD: “It was a long Bank Holiday“.
Defence: “Do you really expect the members of the jury that you remember nothing? At all? What was the ‘true crime’ they constructed?”
SCD: “Well from audience suggestions shouted out at the start, the scene of the crime was Gatwick Airport and the crime was to be theft or robbery. Of all wraps in the food hall of the domestic flights area. Oh and an airplane was stolen too…“
Defence: “And did you enjoy this true crime improvisation?“
SCD remained stubbornly silent.
The defence barrister picks up three folded cards from the table.
Defence: “May I submit Exhibit Two? Mr SCD’s handwritten notes from the performance“.
A gasp echoes around the courtroom. The barrister hands the cards over to SCD and with a nod, invites him to read the notes aloud.
SCD, reluctantly: “Very warm, charming, enthusiastic presence… A clever, contemporary hook to hang improv on. Great flights of fancy – whether you can trademark a wrap, the furtive world of betting on planes falling out of the sky, Scarlett Johansson being hit in the face by a wrap when sunbathing – that never stray too far from the true crime recap…“
His voice tails off.
Defence: “More please. Just read what you’ve written“.
SCD, blurting out “Jonathan is the perfect confident ringmaster, great interaction with the audience to put them at ease and make them want to be part of the fun. Lorna has an irresistible energy and an endless range of instantly recognisable quirky characters. Will adds a dry and often surreal humour into the mix and Orla delivers strong acting chops to her varied roles. A blizzard of brilliantly improvised dramatis personae crafted on the spot. So many accents – some of them even accurate…”
Defence, smiling: “And please could you skip to the final bit on your card. The bit you’ve underlined. Twice“
SCD, taking a deep breath: “Criminally Untrue is the perfect improvised comedy for Improv-phobes. Spinning the cliches of true crime documentaries to create a new hilarious narrative each time, Criminally Untrue is a show you could happily see again.“
Chaos breaks out in the court – the cast of Pillow Talk Theatre cheering, the Judge banging his gavel as if he were in an American legal system…
Defence: “I rest my case“.
Judge: “Case dismissed. Pillow Talk Theatre you are free to go“.
SCD walks out of the witness box with an inscrutable expression on his face. What is he thinking? Could he be regretting his decision to write his review of Criminally Untrue in such an over-extended, unconventional way? Possibly. Or could he be wondering if he’d set the series link for The Staircase?
In the now empty courtroom, the lone defence barrister picks up his bags and papers and makes his way towards the exit, a smug smile spreading across his face. On his table, he has left a solitary lychee behind – a visual coda as an in-joke that only those who were in the Bridge House Theatre audience would understand.
Told you improv comedy was annoying!
The Recs gives Criminally Untrue a pleasantly surprising ★★★★ (4 stars)
The Recs saw Criminally Untrue at Bridge House Theatre as part of their Vault Unlocked Festival 2022