Review: BattleActs! (Free Sisters)

Originally published on StageWon. August 2012 – Edinburgh Fringe. (

Melissa Rynn reviews BattleActs! improvised comedy at The Free Sisters.


Two teams, one aim: to pulverise the other side to a hideously cruel defeat and achieve the coveted title of BattleActs! winner (until the next night, at least). An Edinburgh regular and steady Fringe favourite, BattleActs! toy with the concept of improvised comedy through a trademark competitive streak as the company are split into two and forced to fight it out against one another in a test of wit, speed, and acrobatic versatility that I’m sure even Cirque du Soleil would envy.

Aside from the notable in-house competition, what marks the talented troop away from scores of other improvisation groups is both the intelligence behind the work and the sheer energy each game is performed with. Imagine the knowing humour of Blackadder combined with a room full of coffee-fueled six year olds on Christmas Eve and you wouldn’t be far off the level of enthusiasm the team achieve each night. There’s lots of unplanned leaps and bounds yet the overall evening constantly builds, never wavering in its skillful display of theatrical spontaneity.

A new addition to last year’s programme, the show now includes two guest spots designed to introduce the audience to new shows and give the acrobatic actors a well earned rest for twenty minutes. A fantastic way to build the show, the standard of performance certainly never wavers; I was lucky enough to have none less than MTV persona and established stand-up Joel Dommett as well brilliant sketch trio Foil, Arms and Hog keeping the roof risen on the night I was there with unquestionably funny supporting ten minute sets.

As a free show you’ll hardly have to battle with your bank manager to pay a visit, instead you might just have to fight the crowds as the troop become ever more popular. However, as we’re reminded a the beginning of the show, we make the suggestions so if it’s not all that good, it’s the audience’s fault. I’m hoping that opening line works both ways and feel somewhat inclined to take just a little bit of credit for the success myself. I’ll accept thanks in the form of a drink or two…

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