From Chaucer, via Shakespeare and Austen, British humour can trace its root back a long way. To celebrate the visit if improv troupe Austentatious to ROSL on Friday 2 February, Jessica Harris-Edwards looks back at what makes our literary heroes funny in the latest edition of Overseas.
With the popularity of shows such as Whose Line is it Anyway? and the increased number of improv troupes at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, it often comes as a shock to discover this beloved form of entertainment is a relatively new phenomenon. Considering its humble beginnings as a mere drama exercise for children in the early 20th century and being illegal up until 1968 in the UK, improvisational theatre now has many forms. However, whether it is an actor giving an unscripted monologue when lost in the moment, or a whole play such as 66 minutes in Damascus where audience members are expected to jump into the action, improv tends, for the most part, to be a comedy performance.
Joining us here at the Royal Over-Seas League in on Friday 2 February is Austentatious, an improv troupe which creates an entire play in the style of Jane Austen, based on nothing more than a title suggested by the audience. Performed in full Regency costume with live musical accompaniment, the group have a record number of sell out shows and the Chortle award for Best Improv under their belts.