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London 50-hour Improvathon: The Wedding Party | Wilton's Music Hall

The Wedding Party is the theme and title for this year's 50 hour improvisation marathon. An outrageously bold attempt for a cast of improvisation performers to perform for a continual fifty hours, from Friday 7pm until Sunday 9pm. With only a handful of the cast completing the entire fifty hours, the cast are ultimately a revolving door of characters spinning in and out of this wedding party, bringing new twists and turns with them. 

The 50 hour improvathon has been split into 25 "episodes" each, with the running time of 1 hour and 40 minutes and a short 20 minute interval. The cast have only been given character names and a short line describing their personality, and the rest is improvised by the cast then and there on the stage. 

The two directors Adam Meggido and Ali James sit within the audience and provide instructions for the cast for each scene. They take it in turns to call upon various characters and provide a suggestion as to what each scene must contain and the actors scramble to achieve this whilst bringing their own to it. Meggido and James do a splendid job in delegating these scenes, ensuring that each character gets equal stage time and often groups rather conflicting characters, resulting in amusing situations. Each episode also includes a couple of musical numbers, often inspired by famous musicals. 

I will stress that as the first episode introduces us to the characters and their relationships, setting up the entirety of the improvathon, meaning that it lacks in character development or even dramatic action. Therefore is completely different from the rest of the improvathon where the performers have found their character, and the fun really kicks off. Personally, having stayed for the first 26 hours of the improvathon (with a 2 hour break), the rest of the show is hilarious and exciting, and truly reaches the unhinged level of chaos that one would expect from sleep deprived improv performers. 

Despite mostly setting up for future episodes, the first episode still brings a fun dose of the chaotic confusion, complicated relationships between various characters, sweet heartfelt moments (though these are scattered far and few), and an element of supernatural haunting with the inclusion of Jasper EverAfter, the late owner of the EverAfter Manor where the improvathon is set (played by the brilliant Henry Shields). 

With a rather varied range of characters, from the unmatched moral compass Sister Margaret (Seamus Allen who deserves an award for this role), drunken uncle Uncle Harristotle (Dylan Emery), Jewish Old Woman Jesus (Julie Clare), YouTube Star Ekon Santana (Tai Campell), Psychologist Dr. Cranberry Bird (Mark Meer) amongst numerous others. This leads to several funny moments including a "Nuns Top Trump" moment, a turn of dark comedy with Jasper's history, therapy sessions, and a healthy dosage of pro-drug conversations. 

The first episode has a strong cast of twenty two performers, and a lot of the first episode spends a good chunk of time introducing them one by one to the audience. Whilst in theory this is really helpful, the audience are immediately overwhelmed trying to learn the peculiar names and standing of all the characters. With an exemption of a few particularly bemusing characters, it took a couple of episodes before I was able to fully comprehend the characters. 

The performers, who come from improv backgrounds, do a brilliant job and clearly establish their kooky personalities straight away. Embracing a key defining trait (Brett's "James Boots-Kats Boots and Kats" forever smoking an imaginary cigarette, or Cavangh as "Vince Prawn" and his obsession with his car Bertha), the actors help the characters feel more dimensional and leads to future plot points. 

The stage has been decorated to resemble a wedding party, with a wooden bar in a corner, a couple of smaller tables, beautifully arranged bouquets, floral arrangements, flags and fairy lights hung about the stage and room. The cast tend to move the furniture about, or utilise it in scenes, (including an inventive use of turning the bar into a car and a boat). With the pastel colours and warm lighting, it really does create a sense of hope and love. 

London 50-hour Improvathon: The Wedding Party is a hilarious, exciting, and charmingly chaotic ensemble piece that will intrigue and challenge theatre goers. With the option to watch a single episode, drop in and out, or attempt the entire marathon, its a galore of improvised fun from a wildly talented cast.


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Claire Bilyard


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