The Uncertainty Division

Improvised theatre

An Uncertain Success

The Uncertainty Division have thought up a great concept. Get an audience member to play some word association games, note down their responses, then use their random thoughts to generate an improvised play. Having taken part in improvised theatre in my previous life as an A-level drama student I know it is hard to do. Making up an entire play spontaneously is tricky. Structuring that spontaneous play around a series of strange words ejected from the brain of anyone who happens to be in your audience seems near impossible. Yet the Uncertainty Division achieve this remarkable feat with panache.

All members of the cast are skilled actors and comedians and their on-stage relationship is exceptionally productive. Without talking to each other they pool their thespian resources to forge a unique play. Slicker than your average student theatrical love-in. James Lark, a regular in Footlights productions, is effortlessly amusing and engaging. James Aylett presents an endearingly bashful persona. Andrew Ormerod dominates rather than graces the stage, but the comedy is all the better for it and Andrew Pontzen looks at ease wandering aimlessly in and out of the unfolding action.

The most impressive aspect of this production though is the music. All four cast members are proficient piano players and take it in turns to guide the plot and the tone of the play using a keyboard that is permanently on stage and amongst the actors. Along with the sensitive lighting procedures this technique helps to control, structure and illuminate each individual play that this company produces. The Uncertainty Division’s work is intriguing; it emphasises the importance of spontaneity in theatre, of creating something out of very little, of using our imaginations. They challenge you to engage with their project, take part in their experiment.

It seems a bit pointless to review a play that changes on every performance night: I enjoyed a play about voluble Anti-Biscuit protestors and the dangers of being ‘interested’ in life - God knows what tomorrow’s audience will be privy to. It might just be worth finding out.

Sarah Price

Originally published by The Cambridge Student.