Once upon a time there was a dark stage and a blackboard... a storyteller whips his cloak about him, and unleashes his pet improvisers to tell a tale the likes of which has never been seen before.
The show begins, as ever in improv shows, with audience suggestions. On the night I went, we were asked for an item (a seashell), a power or curse (mind reading) and a title (The Fall of the South Coast). The performer then worked this into a wacky, humorous and somewhat stabby tale of a king, a carpenter and a drum seller who‘d forgotten his drum sticks.
As with most long-form improvisations, the storyteller played an important role keeping things on track. He did a good job of warming up the audience, and got everyone giggling before asking for suggestions. He kept notes while sitting at the back and was generally good at keeping everything moving. He did keep forgetting where the story was set, but by the end that was a running joke.
I think the piece would have benefited somewhat from him jumping in slightly earlier when scenes started to wander, but overall, the plot was coherent and funny and each storyline came together at the end. With each of them playing multiple characters, a couple of times there was confusion as to who had just entered the scene, but they recovered well from it (often with twin-themed jokes!)
The performers worked well together, with good dialogue and good-natured goading to try and get a song out – the couple of rhyming lines they managed were well worth the wait. Drawing on both physical comedy and quick wits, the players got many laughs from the audience. Particularly notable quick-witted moments were the Bard-ber Shoppe Quartet and the mischievous wood pixies admitting handing out magic mushrooms – "That explains the dragons!".
Light-hearted and silly, this show works well for a late-night laugh. Though it didn't quite do what it says on the tin – it lacked all the cautionary elements of a Grimm fairytale – it certainly entertained us with its "grim" death toll and bizarre antics. The performers managed to craft a fun and coherent tale on the fly… and work it so they all lived happily ever after.