I won’t tell a lie: I’ve always been a bit sceptical about improvised theatre. Four years of drama degree combined with a tendency to go blank when under pressure is probably the result of this. And then I went to Playback as Soon as You Hear. The Playback team is made up of Charlotte Duffy, Claire O’Reilly, Kellie Reynolds, Sarah Bradley and Dan Colley and is marshaled by Cathal McGuire, who acts as a cross between choreographer and ringmaster. What they do is very simple: they ask you for a story and then they act it out, in a diverse range of simple, hilarious and madcap ways. All of the actors are inventive and funny, and impressively instantaneous in their interpretations.
The wonderful thing about Playback is the relaxed environment that it creates – not a mean feat given how terrifying ‘audience participation’ can be. This is the gentlest of participation, as easy as asking how your day was and as inviting an audience as anybody with a good yarn could ever wish for. Which meant that close to half of the audience volunteered a tale, whether it be a moment of their day or an event from their childhood. Impressive, given that usually when an audience is asked something of this sort, everybody suddenly finds something riveting to gaze at in their pints. And stories ranged from hilarious to sad to quite ordinary – everything was welcomed, nothing rejected. So bring your stories and prepare to hear some more!
For those who missed Playback in Anseo on Monday, don’t miss them in The Exchange, where they perform on Thursday at 8pm as part of 10 Days in Dublin. And if you can’t make that, then rest assured, because Playback perform bi-monthly in Anseo.