Mischief Movie Night - Cooking Up Trouble - Edinburgh Fringe - Pleasance at the EICC
Over the years, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival has acted as a launchpad for many productions and performers that are now household names with many fringe goers able to say, ‘I was there when’. Looking back to 2009, you may have stumbled across a small show in a small venue called ‘Lights Camera Improvise’, performed by a group called The Scat Pack.
And from those humble beginnings, the show has changed name, the company has changed names and it is now one of the best-known comedy groups in the world. ‘Lights, Camera, Improvise’ is now known as ‘Mischief Movie Night’ with The Scat Pack now known as Mischief Theatre.
Famed for their hits ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’, ‘Magic Goes Wrong’ and ‘The Goes Wrong Show’ to name but a few, Mischief Movie Night is the company’s flagship production, loved by millions all over the world after keeping us entertained with their live streamed shows over the last couple of years. And now they are back where it all started, returning to the Fringe, and bringing ‘Mischief Movie Night’ to the Pentland Theatre at The Pleasance at EICC.
‘Mischief Movie Night’ introduces us to film lover Oscar (Jonathan Sayer) who has a collection of every movie ever made. Taking suggestions on genre, setting and title, the group of improvisors then make up the movie on the spot complete with multiple characters, numerous hats, improvised music, and plot twists that will have you laughing until it hurts.
In the show that we attended, we were treated to a period drama entitled ‘Cooking Up Trouble’ which saw manor house workers Jimmy (Henry Lewis), and Samantha Cassandra (Charlie Russell) trying to work their way up the ranks as Lord Avery (Henry Shields) desperately tries to marry off his daughter Lillibeth (Susan Harrison) before his time is up. But with Aunt Martha (Josh Elliott) plotting to get the inheritance to herself and a suitor (played by Harry Kershaw) who isn’t what he claims to be, can the inheritance be saved and will romance win?
With a show that is completely improvised, you never know what to expect and when it comes to Mischief Movie Night, it really could be anything, anyone who say any of the live stream shows will know that things can get more than a little bit crazy but that is what makes it so brilliant. ‘Cooking Up Trouble’ came complete with a gore filled death scene, music boxes that sung ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ and an S Club medley, interrupting seagulls, gibbons, and some interesting baking ingredients, plus lots of moments in which Oscar either paused or rewound the action, along with a lot of laughter.
I could go on and on about every moment of this improvised production and how every moment made me laugh so much, but that could end up being quite a ramble so I will just highlight a few moments. Sayer quickly picked up that the majority of us sitting on the front row were wearing ‘Charlie Russell pleased me’ stickers, having come straight for her brilliant afternoon show. Things got interesting when Josh Elliott (in his first fringe performance of 2022) had to give Henry’s Shields Lord Avery a bath followed by Charlie Russell having to help reattach Shields’ mic pack without coming out of the scene. Sayer had to pause when Harry Kershaw nearly walked into his chair and all eyes were on Josh Elliott when someone was needed to play a horse (something he often did during the live streamed shows).
Ed Zanders and Oliver Izod provided the improvised backing music for the show, with Izod delighted at period drama being chosen as the genre meaning that he could play the violin.
Overall, ‘Mischief Movie Night’ proves that Mischief continues to be at the top of the improv game, making it look easy to make things up on the spot and have the audience laughing their heads off. There is a real sense of the friendship in the group, with many having worked together since the Scat Pack early days and that friendship makes it even more of an enjoyable watch.