Rhona Richards and Nathalie Jacoby--seamless improvisation
Photo: The Story in Motion Project
Virginia Monologues review
They didn't bill it as a magic show, but they could have. “The Virginia Monologues” was billed simply as improvisational theatre, but what Nathalie Jacoby and Rhona Richards created on stage, with musical accompaniment by Peter Corser, was the theatrical equivalent of pulling rabbits out of top hats and sawing ladies in half.
They wowed the audience with what they did on stage, but they totally knocked their socks off with how they did it--entirely off the tops of their heads. Sure, that’s the nature of improve--making it up as you go--but these women sang songs and created characters and scenes that surely couldn’t have just been created on the spot last Friday and Saturday nights at the Théate National du Luxembourg. Didn’t they have bits of it worked out beforehand, and just improvise a little between those parts, or have the basic ideas and just ad-lib the lines?
Nope. No even that song? Nope. Not even that bit about the sisters stuck in Moscow? Nope. Not a bit of it.
And just like a magician will ask a member of the audience to pick a number between 1 and 100 and guess it right, Nathalie and Rhona asked the audience at the beginning of the show to give them a few ideas to throw into the performance. On Friday night, the crowd suggested the Cold War, a crystal ball, a sari and a beach and on Saturday, they said the om sound, a fart and a sigh, a castle and the Victorian era.
Not only did they work these things into the sketches, they surprised the audience by bringing them back into the performance in unexpected ways. And not only that, they threw a few references to something stunning people outside of the theatre, namely Brexit, which couldn’t have been rehearsed.
It wasn’t impressive like favourite uncle who likes to do card tricks at parties; it was impressive like Houdini.
Both actresses have ample stage experience. But while Nathalie has been an improvisational actor since 1997, Rhona, who teaches the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts course at the ISL and has frequently trodden the boards here in Luxembourg, was used to working with a script. Timothy Lone, who devised the concept of the show with Nathalie and also directed the show, thought that Rhona would be the perfect partner for Nathalie, and he was right.
The two of them were alternatively mother and daughter, boss and employee, sisters, fellow ghosts, Russian spies….and they did it so seamlessly, with an innate sense of timing and flowing movement, that it sometimes didn’t even seem like acting, let alone improv.
And that was pure magic.
There’ll be more of that sort of thing too, because Timothy Lone has got something up his sleeve and it isn’t a bouquet of artificial flowers or a chain of multi-coloured scarves. It’s more productions and workshops from the new theatre company based in Luxembourg called The Story in Motion Project, which explores theatrical expression through improvisation, movement and voice. Find out more at www.storyinmotionproject.com