I grew up watching “Who’s Line Is It Anyway,” a comical improvisation show in the U.S. and U.K. that was interactive Improv show that bounced ideas off the audience in order to produce material. So when I heard about Improvisation & Co’s English show, I knew I had to grab at the chance to see it because if it was anything like that then I was sure to laugh my *** off!
Walking up to the theater I was very intrigued with its physical features. It resembled a small comedy club in New York City. That type of atmosphere always exudes an authentic feel molding the perfect persona. Although it was a bit squished, (I felt really bad for the seven-foot tall guy in front of me who had his knees into his chest because he had no leg room) it provided a great intimate feel and it gave the chance for the performers to be really connected with the audience.
The beginning was a bit shocking. I would describe it as a “what the hell” moment where you’re not really quite sure what’s going on. Then you can’t do anything but laugh because it’s a bit hilarious, a bit frightening, and a bit confusing at the same time. Laughter is all you can do to describe the combination of those emotions. I assume that’s probably exactly what they intended. The actors wanted to induce that wow factor that eventually led to laughter. Clever indeed.
Right away the performers got the audience interaction going – asking us for words, ideas, experiences. Since the show is about foreigners who might feel lost in Sweden, many examples were given about what funny or odd things that Swedes do. It was great to see how many other foreigners found the same things that I did when I first came here! The Swedes in the room were great sports about it too, laughing and even agreeing at some of the points foreigners raised about how they act, talk, and do things. Then the improvisation they bounced off our comments was quite impressive. They really had me cracking up!
The whole show had a lot of different things going on. I won’t give it all away but the first half the material is purely up to the audience and the second half is a reenactment of a romantic comedy story-line. Repetition is never an issue!
Lost in Translation really grasped exactly what makes for a good show – relatability. When people can relate to what you’re speaking about then by bouncing off those experiences it can become comical. If the show actually chose all its own stuff or even random things that the audience didn’t offer there’s less of a chance that people can relate and it might not seem as funny as it could.
The actors were really impressive too. Two out of three were Swedish, Katarina Wahlberg and Jenny Björk. The girls’ ability to come up with different scenarios from these random words and ideas from the audience in English, their second language, was extraordinary! The only guy in the show, Josh Lenn, who is originally from the U.S., was a big ball of a fire. The energy and just pure enthusiasm into his performance was just permeating the room and it really adds to a show when you see that kind of passion. Having just a touch of music from the keyboard (played by Maria Olofson) was the perfect addition of dramatic measure to their acting. Not too much, not too little.
The entire experience was a really pleasant one. When you look around the room and you see everyone enjoying and laughing, what more can you ask from an improvisation performance? Not much. Shows are on until December and it’s not the only ones they have – they also offer shows in Swedish. Don’t miss out on the chance to see one of them!
For tickets and more information click here.
Words by Angela Markovic