"Intriguing talks and comic improv"
by Eleni Young for remotegoat on 13/07/14

Nestled away in the middle of Ewer Street is the rustic, fairy lit Nursery Theatre. Easy to miss without the groups of 20-30 something year old audience members outside, Nursery Theatre sits right in the middle of the street at Arch 61, and tonight, Do Not Adjust Your Stage Comedy brings us Wunderkammer.

In short, Wunderkammer, lines up two experts to speak on their specialist field with improv sketches in between. Improv and Talks? Well, this certainly does make for a fairly different and innovative night at the theatre.

First was Jamie Murray, Chief UK Economist at Bloomberg. Certainly someone who speaks confidently to a crowd on the subject of financial forecasting, Jamie gives us an interesting, comic talk on financial forecasting. Easily accessible to those of us who are not in the world of finance or experts on the economy, Jamie provides a snapshot of the economy from the start of the 20th century with a closer insight into the recession in 2008. Despite the ability to talk about forecasting in an entertaining matter, the talk was short lived. By the time the talk started to gain momentum and to get interesting, the talk finished with no real ending or even a middle section to get to the heart of the subject matter. What started off well seemed to be prematurely cut short, which is a shame, as with a little more material this talk could have explored far more than it did.

The second speaker, Dr Will Alston, an Astrophysicist at Cambridge University, talks on the incredibly complex and intriguing subject of black holes. A well thought out talk that was interesting, witty and certainly unusual, (after all when was the last time you even had a conversation about black holes?) Dr Will Alston gave a brief and interesting snapshot into the galaxy, black holes and the theories that surround them. Seemingly less confident talking in front of a crowd than Jamie Murray, Dr Will Alston engaged the audience well and fascinated the every person in that theatre on what exists beyond our own planet.

In between these talks were improvisation scenes created by Do Not Adjust Your Stage (DNAYS), which were funny, creative and tied in well with the talks. Great characterisation, each member of DNAYS flitted brilliantly between different characters and scenarios. Improvisation on stage doesn’t always perform well, but DNAYS make it work. Some characters and comic themes did tend to be quite repetitive which did seem to undermine the performers potential, which is a shame, but on the flipside what worked well really did just that. If there is one thing to learn from improvisation, it’s to know how and when to end the scene. If it’s not working, it’s not working, and unfortunately there were a few points where the improv scene continued, when really it should have moved on to something else.

To judge Wunderkammer on one night of performance is incredibly difficult. After all, each month there are different speakers and the improv will always be dependent on that. However, the level of speakers who attend Wunderkammer is incredibly high and brings a very cool and interesting twist to an improv night. If you’re looking for something different, a bit Shoreditch-trendy and funny, this will be for you.

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