Fringe Guru – Otherworld

The Noise Next Door – Brighton Comedy Fringe Festival

Part-boyband, part-sitcom, part-troubadour-barbershop-quintet, The Noise Next Door is a multi-talented behemoth of improv comedy. Though this genre is always going to be hit or miss, the five guys from The Noise Next Door play one of the most distinctive rounds of quick-fire musical improv I’ve seen in a long time.

A disparate rabble of musicians and actors, each brings the best of their distinctive personalities to the show. The punchlines come thick and fast – a testament to the instinctive wit of each performer – and we marvelled at their ability to carry off one another’s jokes and follow their implicit narratives. Unfailingly funny and endearing, the boys engaged the audience for most of the show, but came up against obstacles in the face of uninspired suggestions from the crowd.

Starting off with infectious enthusiasm, the team volleyed some tricky topics with excellent timing, creating a prog-rock epic around the subject of The Hadron Collider Apocalypse. Involving the audience in a couple of skits also proved to be a hit: they found comic gold even in the dingy kitchens of a McDonald’s restaurant, using lightning-fast reactions to keep the momentum up.

Despite some particularly vague plot suggestions from the audience, the guys maintained an impressive amount of energy and, when backed into a corner, smashed their way out with a power ballad or two. Coming up with some resourceful titles to fit the “under the sea” location suggested by the audience, Hidin’ from Poseidon was a particular highlight.

Unfortunately the show lost direction in the latter half, despite a strong format and inventive themes. I was left wishing for a faster pace, as they struggled to mime a particularly sarcastic suggestion thrown up from the crowd. Still, despite some lyrical lethargy toward the end, the boyband-serenade finale was brilliant – and I left the show humming along to one of their spontaneously-composed songs, which is more than could be said for some West End productions!

The Noise Next Door, given a creative and willing audience, is a great evening’s entertainment, with quick wits and musical accomplishment to rival any other. It’s just a shame that the team fell victim to their audience this evening, leaving them making the best of some crude and banal subject matter.