EDINBURGH 2013 - BWW Reviews: VOICES IN YOUR HEAD - THE PHILL JUPITUS EXPERIMENT, August 10 2013
Improvisation is very much a fringe staple, and one that can seem all too familiar when you've seen the umpteenth troupe of drama students playing the same WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY games. Deborah Frances-White's Voices in Your Head project seems to have found a way to reinvent the genre. This year she's working with Phill Jupitus every night in place of last years debut with regularly changing guests.
The evening is controlled by the disembodied voice of Frances-White guiding Jupitus through a number of surreal scenes, some from Jupitus's own life and some characters completely invented on the spot. Before he enters the auditorium, we are assured that he has no knowledge of what is planned for him tonight. All of the scenes are revealed on the spot typed on to a giant screen, giving him no opportunity for pre-preparation. He gets just ten seconds to get in to character
At times this almost feels like therapy, and in fact a special safe-word is agreed to allow Jupitus to shut down a scene should it get a little too deep and uncomfortable. But Jupitus is an expert at his craft, ensuring that this always stays the right side of that funny/awkward barrier. He effortlessly adopts the character of an unborn child trying to work out what's about to happen to him - or a 13 year old boy from Wales with an unrequited crush.
It's refreshing to see such an ambitious take on well-worn format. Frances-White's probing question gives Jupitus plenty of room to really shine and when he's set a trap it's a delight to watch him deftly sidestep it, whilst throwing back a few grenades of his own.
"VOICES IN YOUR HEAD - THE Phill Jupitus EXPERIEMENT" runs until August 26th (not 12th) at the Pleasance Dome.