Theatre group Cartoon De Salvo create dynamic live improvised performances that go beyond the familiar format of gag-centred shows in the 'Whose Line Is It Anyway?' mould.
This is a collaboration with musical improvisers The Adventurists — an inspired four-piece band playing numerous instruments including harp, steel drums, violin and keyboards. Their jaunty mix of folk and blues-tinged melodies, musical noises and noodles add a lively extra dimension to the quirky characterisation being dreamt up live by the actors.
The show kicks off with the performers getting the audience to throw around titles 'for a film not yet made.' After a few suggestions including The Dog Father, actors Neil Haigh, Brian Logan and Alex Murdoch land upon the title Hunting The Shark.
The three performers move fluidly from scene to scene devising a quirky revenge drama set at sea. They each portray numerous characters and keep an impressive number of story strands going throughout the performance.
Logan, Haigh and Murdoch read each other brilliantly, bouncing off each other's increasingly absurb comic creations. Periodically they wrong-foot each other, but this only adds to the charm of this show, evolving live before your eyes. They make brilliant use of Soho Theatre's intimate upstairs studio, with the actors using every bit of the available space as they become sailors, illegal shark fisherman, castaways and a host of other quirky creations.
Improvising a long-form piece which retains narrative consistency and keeps the audience entertained throughout is impressive enough, but when you add in the constantly evolving score provided by The Adventurists, the show is taken to a whole different level.
Cartoon De Salvo keep the audience audience entertained throughout with their witty, fast paced style. Improvisation can lack direction, but this is certainly not something that afflicts these three skilled performers. Their ability to craft a narrative, keep it funny and achieve a real mix of emotion within their performance is captivating.
By Andrew Taylor
Catch Made Up at Soho Theatre Wednesday to Saturday at 7.30pm, ends 21 April. Tickets from £10.