Impropriety Presents The Happening – Episode Two: 81 Renshaw Street, Liverpool

By Sean Broadhurst
Mon 02 October, 2017

Having unwittingly become part of the show during episode one of Impropriety’s improvised soap opera, Sean Broadhurst was determined not to let the same thing happen at episode two. 

Last week, Impropriety launched their weekly improv soap opera, The Happening, taking us back to 1960s Liverpool, where a group of artists prepared for their first show at a local venue.

In episode one we left the characters wondering how they would pay the rent and appease the money obsessed Brigadier, and with the self-proclaimed enigma, Mumbo Jumbo, taking his first steps on his mission to destroy the Liverpool arts scene.

We arrived early this week, to avoid unwittingly becoming part of the night’s entertainment — as we did last Monday — and the room was still packed. We noticed a few familiar faces in the audience. There were plenty of new faces too, along with a handful of new characters; Jo Caine, a dealer who blags knowing the first thing about drugs even though she categorises them all by colour. Jesus Minefield, a name that promised more conflict between Musty and Tempest Minefield, whose on stage relationship, even in the ridiculous, crazy world of The Happening was already memorably feisty and volatile.

We were introduced to musical duo, Bob Crabb and Terry Pitman, the latter has a talent for turning any song miserable while the former only wants to ‘…please the kids.’ I’m not touching that one.

We were also introduced to Rita Armstrong, she’s headstrong, powerful, and hellbent on extinguishing the gang’s creative spark, and, she’s a woman. Woe betide anyone who forgets that, or offers her a cuppa, she’s like to have a ‘womb hysteria’ as Jesus so eloquently put it.

Again, Impropriety showed off their comedic chops and kept the crowd laughing throughout the show. There was a great deal more crowd interaction this week, as Mumbo Jumbo, Alan Ferlinghetti, and Jesus Minefield, obliterated the fourth wall, standing on tables and sitting, embracing, and speaking directly with audience members.

After last week, we thought we’d try to avoid the actors’ crosshairs, but due to our lack of foresight in the ‘where to sit’ department we were spectacularly unsuccessful. In the second half of the show Mumbo Jumbo began making a cocktail of different coloured hallucinogens with which he would enthrall Roger F’ckoff, and convince him to turn his artist friends into corporate sell-outs. Mumbo stepped offstage and asked audience members for colours.

Blue,’ one lady suggested.

Red,’ another said.

Then Mumbo stared piercingly into the eyes of a socially inept writer and asked for him to name a colour.

Green,’ he said. At least, through fits of awkward laughter that’s what he thought he’d said.

Mumbo Jumbo helpfully pointed out that what he had really said was, ‘Gheeen!’ and to be sure everyone in the room had heard him clearly, Mumbo helpfully repeated ‘Gheeen!’ again, and again, and again.

There was a greater sense of story in the performance this week, probably because less time was needed to establish the characters and the actors were free to explore how those characters might interact.

Comparatively, last week’s installment felt more like a series of random sketches with some overlapping of story-lines. The connections between characters weren’t as strong simply because there wasn’t time to develop them properly, and it made these connections at times hard to believe.

In episode two there was more crossing of paths. The world was condensed, and, because it felt smaller, the city itself began to play a part in the narrative.

Liverpool is a small city, and everyone in its creative community seems to be connected. Impropriety reflected that truth and used it to throw characters into situations that were not only essential to move the plot along, but situations that were plausible enough to suspend the audience’s disbelief. The foundations laid first episode were built upon expertly and made the show even more enjoyable.

This week, a lot happened — that joke is never going to get old — Roger F’ckoff was visited twice by the patron saint of poetry; the group formulated a plan to start their own underground marijuana farm on Dezzi’s allotment; Crab and Pitman planned  their comeback gig with Pricilla White and Musty; Jesus, arrived on the scene claiming to be Tempest’s father and then later revealed that it was all just a farce to befriend her, all of this was happening — told you — as Mumbo Jumbo and Rita Armstrong hatched a plan to inflict a ‘Bear-giraffe-Serengeti-avalanche,’ on the local artists which would hopefully force them to abandon their freedom for a more corporate-friendly form of artistic expression.

The night ended with a song which revealed the influence behind Pitman’s depressing lyric writing — his unrequited love of Crab. ‘I want a Crab to walk beside me/ a crab deep inside me.’ We think they’ll probably have to settle for being one hit wonders.

During the performance Pitman presented his partner with an ultimatum, they can be together, or they’ll never play together again. Crab refused and decided instead to kill him because…why the hell not? It’s improv.

Episode three of The Happening will be performed at the usual time of 8pm (Doors at 7:30pm) at 81 Renshaw St. Will the gang’s marijuana farm be lucrative? Is Terry really dead? Will Mumbo and Rita’s bear-giraffe-Serengeti-avalanche destroy the Liverpool arts scene? Will anybody remember the rent? Find out tonight! Tickets £5 OTD.