Returning to the Edinburgh Fringe after a 7 year break to harness international, award-winning successes, the Mischief team are back with Mischief Movie Night- an improvised film night unlike any other. With different suggestions for every performance, you never know quite what'll come from the inevitably hilarious piece.
As one of the company founding the phenomenon, Dave Hearn has told us a bit more about what this is like to be part of.
How would you sum up Mischief Movie Night, and how is this different to anything else out there?
Mischief Movie Night is a show in which we make up an entire movie based on audience suggestions live on stage. It’s different to everything out there because it is literally different every night. No two shows are the same.
How does it feel to be back at the Fringe, after the huge success that The Play That Goes Wrong and the other Mischief shows have had?
It’s amazing to be back at the Fringe- we weren’t sure how this year was going to work out, but the fans and new audiences have been amazing. There is still such a love for theatre and all forms of art here and you can really feel it!
What's your relationship with the other cast members like? I imagine you have to get on well to improvise with each other so smoothly!
Oh yeah, we’re a big family, we have our disagreements of course, but we’re living and working together so it’s important we get on. It’s also vital that you trust the people you’re on stage with. Some of us have been working or training together for nearly 15 years so we know each other pretty well.
What is your pre-show preparation like, and do you ever worry about what the show may bring, with every performance being different?
We do your basic vocal warm and mic checks; we practice a few scenes and songs that people just call out. Then we play some games backstage to get our brains firing. Personally, I don’t ever worry about what the show will bring- that’s kind of the joy of making it up. You’ve no idea what suggestions you’re gonna get from the audience; there are so many elements of the show that are out of your control. You have to find peace in the fact that you’ve no idea what you’re going to be doing and trust that you’ll think of something in the moment.
How has your experience in the role changed your approach as it has become more familiar?
The show feels very familiar now, but really that’s just down to getting used to the feeling of not knowing what you’ll be doing and leaning into that. Often, you’ll find yourself at the sides or in scenes splitting your brain into a few different pieces. What does this scene need? Where might the narrative be heading? Where is the joke? Why is Harry Kershaw looking at me like that? You start to get familiar with all of them.
What has been your favourite or funniest unexpected moment in a show?
This was only a few shows ago where Henry Lewis crashed a scene in the final five mins of the show to deliver the punchline for a joke he set up in the first five mins. It was a masterclass in patience and comedy except; he stumbled over the key word, interrupted a crucial story beat and missed the punchline. All in all, it was a total car crash and it was one of the funniest things I’ve ever been a part of.
Which of your successes with the franchise has been a highlight for you so far?
We’ve been so lucky to have so many amazing moments and I have two that really stick with me. The first was winning the Olivier for Play That Goes Wrong; that was a culmination of so much effort and time and second guessing and working and hating being an actor, but when they said our name, I just launched to my feet. I genuinely didn’t think we would win.
The second was really early on when we were trying to get Mischief Movie Night to a bigger venue, it must have been back in 2012/2013 maybe, and we finally got the go ahead from Underbelly. Now we do a lot of our Fringe work with Pleasance and they are wonderful, but getting our little improv show into one of the top venues felt like a massive step forward for us and it made the hard work worth it!
Huge thanks to Dave for answering these about his show, and Mischief in general- it’s great . Best of luck for the run, and with each of the next brilliant things you get up to!
Tickets to their Fringe performances can be found here:
The team are touring the production too, so tickets for those venues can be found here:
Additional thanks to Tom Kershaw-Green for coordinating this interview.