“This year we won’t have a practical round after last year’s ‘Can you put out a chip pan fire?’ debacle”
It’s no secret that I’ve tumbled hard for the Austentatious guys so it should come as no surprise that I’m now stalking them at their solo shows too. Rachel Parris brought us her Best Laid Plans last week and Andrew Hunter Murray has also been appearing the Soho Theatre with his Round One (which has just announced two more dates later in March). The former really makes the break from improvised work with her scripted show and with its looser sketch format, it’s interesting to see how Hunter Murray’s seems to work best when it is involving the audience.
The show is built around a pub quiz, The 15th Annual Rose and Crown Pub Quiz Championship Final no less, but its content actually comes in the spaces inbetween the rounds, where Hunter Murray works through a roll-call of character sketches. There’s the impromptu seated samba class with Arturo Flame which is huge fun, the representative from the crime and erotic book group who talks only in rhyme (the pineapple/Miss Marple couplet is a thing of joy) and these sections fizz with life as he clearly relishes sparking off the interactions with the front row.
Elsewhere, the estate agent dealing with the bee infestation is a bit that never really catches on in the same way, chuckleworthy rather than laugh-out-loud funny as it moves away from the wordplay that is Hunter Murray’s undoubted gift. A subplot involving the quizmaster Tony Rebozo’s crumbling marriage with Angie, reluctantly keeping score here, provides continuity and the hints of something deeper but Round One is best when it is having fun, whether with words or with us or in creating the hilarious props scattered about the room.