Whose Line is it Anyway? @ Assembly Rooms

Nostalgia is like it used to be in Whose Line is It Anyway?

Review by Stu Black | 07 Aug 2017
  • Clive Anderson

There’s a lot of pre-loaded love in the room for Whose Line Is It Anyway?, the great granddaddy of UK improv which ran on Channel 4 from 1988 to 1999. So it’s somehow soothing then to see that very little has changed in the intervening years: four black chairs on a crimson carpet, the same old parlour games, and that spirit of inconsequential silliness – all of which seemed oddly middle-aged when the show first went on air.

Sparrow-like host Clive Anderson is just as twitchy and amateurish, though he still has the knack of pulling a smart-alec put-down out of his pocket at the last second. He starts the show by revealing that he never liked the title since it suggested a scripted show; then undercuts this nicely saying: “No lines, no scripts, no refunds.”

The cast for this Fringe reunion rotates the original line-up, who together now must have the combined age of one Rolling Stone. But they look exactly the same as they bound on stage. Josie Lawrence still has that head girl quality, happy to do the heavy lifting when the others are stumped. Mike McShane is still larger than life but surprisingly adept at physical comedy. Greg Proops is waspish, especially with Anderson: “You just do the annoying bits between the comedy”; to which the host spits back: "Always nice to see you Greg, especially the bit when it ends." Then there’s Phill Jupitus, a later alumnus who seems simultaneously younger and older than the others, bringing a bit of edge to the show. His attempt to sing a reggae song which breaks down as he realises his Jamaican accent is borderline racist is a highlight tonight.

Whose Line is it Anyway?, Assembly Rooms (Music Hall), 3-27 Aug (not 14), 8.10pm, £15-£17.50 http://www.assemblyfestival.com