This year, the fresh-faced members of the No Shoes Theatre group tackle the challenging genre of the improvised musical. With a variety of such shows at this year’s Fringe, the standard is high and the competition is fierce. What makes this improvised musical stand out is its cleverly extended use of audience participation, who choose not only the title of the show, but also the place in which it is set, a song that must be included and personal objects that can be used as props. Two audience members also control the following additional features: ‘spotlight’ where a character must perform a monologue on the spot, and also a self-explanatory ‘flashback’. In fact, at this performance, the excellent comic timing of the audience members in control of these features contributed enormously to the structure and direction of the musical.
On this occasion, the title “Hug a Hoodie” was perhaps a little too specific; the group seemed to struggle with plot and character development, relying a little too much on the comedic self-awareness of having to make it up as they go along. They seemed slightly hesitant to break into song, and as a younger cast, they do not yet appear to be as in tune with each other as some of the more experienced improvised musical groups around, too often speaking over one another. Nonetheless, these talented young actors show enormous potential and will undoubtedly be ones to watch in the future, when they gain the confidence that only develops with experience over time.