This will be my last review from this year’s Edinburgh Fringe – I saw plenty of other shows besides the ones I’ve reviewed, but I’d be here for weeks if I tried to do them all! And since some were shows I’ve seen in previous years, I opted not to review them again. If you want to know more about what I saw, check out my Instagram story highlights instead! Anyways, Baby Wants Candy is an improvised musical, and a show I’d heard good things about in the past, so I finally checked it out this year.
Now, I’ve seen another improvised musical years ago at the Fringe, from a different company, and I enjoyed it, but I felt there was limited audience involvement (this is one of the reasons I like The Noise Next Door so much, who are constantly asking for new suggestions). This was sort of true again here, as all the audience provided was the title of the show, and then the performers did it themselves from there. I would have perhaps liked the occasional pause to throw in an audience suggestion to the plot.
However, I do see why doing it themselves allows them to form some semblance of a plot line, so it doesn’t get completely derailed by absurd suggestions. That said, it did take them a while to establish their plot! I sort of like that though, I like when improv goes a bit wacky and off the rails, and they’re forced to just deal with whatever each other says. It would be boring if the plot were too simple! I particularly like anytime they try to screw each other over, and make things even more difficult for each other.
The night I went, the title we ended up with was ‘Colonel Mustard in the Kitchen with a Chicken Drumstick’, a choice I was very pleased about. Several of the other options involved Trump or Brexit, both of which are topics I’m sick of hearing about in Fringe shows over the last couple of years. Instead, we got a strange Cluedo meets KFC murder mystery – I don’t think the cast themselves had decided ‘whodunnit’ until at least halfway through! I did find that because the cast are American, their sense of humour isn’t totally in line with my own – they avoided making any references that we Brits wouldn’t understand, but I typically like sarcastic, dry humour (as well as innuendoes and a good pun). They were still funny though, and I enjoyed it and laughed a lot anyway!
Another element I particularly liked was their character choices. With just the title to go from, they pretty much had free rein as to who each of them would be, and I was glad that we got a very diverse mix of characters – with some rather unusual name choices! None of them were too similar to each other, and it made it easier to keep track of things when some of them were playing multiple characters, switching between scenes. And even if the audience did lose track of the plot, the cast usually had as well, so we’d all get back on board together!
Finally, it’s definitely worth giving a shout out to the band! There were four of them, one was their own musical director, while the other three were local musicians. And they were improvising as much as the cast were! They provided backing music in some scenes, as well as when they were actually performing songs. It was very entertaining when the band started building to a song, so the cast were forced to go along with it, even if it meant the subject matter of the song felt a bit random! The band were obviously very talented to keep improvising, both to stay in sync with each other, and to suit the action happening on stage!
All in all, it was certainly a fun show. Perhaps not a standout from the entire lineup of Fringe shows I saw this year (I did see 15 in total!), but I still very much enjoyed it! The really fun part about improv is that I could go back and see them again, whether in a year or even the very next day, and it would be a totally different show every time. There’s no denying the talent of the cast and the band, and it’s certainly a show that I think would appeal to all sorts of people!