Notflix is an improvised musical, built around popular movies, and devised each time based on suggestions from the audience. It’s a neat way to ensure a different experience every night, and an impressive feat of on-the-spot creativity by the energetic all-female cast. At times cringe-worthy, while at others reaching levels of pure genius, this is a show that’s guaranteed to include the unexpected - for the performers as well as the audience.
We are invited to complete suggestion slips on the way in, listing a film we have recently enjoyed and providing a brief summary of the plot. Two are then pulled from the Bucket of Destiny, and the audience votes (via the medium of cheer volume) for which one they want to see. The suggestions are clearly genuine: the audience members who wrote them are asked to identify themselves and give more details (a location, favourite scene and overall message from the film). As though to emphasise that the cast have no way to influence what they will have to work with, the show I saw was inspired by Independence Day: Resurgence… which none of them had seen.
What followed was a wildly exuberant, largely insane and somewhat incoherent tale, featuring a young cadet on his first trip into space, alien infiltrators on a human spaceship, and a redneck couple on Earth dealing with marital problems. All the cast members get equal stage time as they split into three pairs of characters, taking it in turns to progress their storylines. No conferring or planning is possible - they all remain on stage the whole time - and all six performers are more than willing to jump in with whatever their fellow cast members propose. The Hamilton-style number was particularly impressive, and very entertaining.
My main issue is a technical one. The music was amplified but the performers didn’t have mics, which made it difficult to make out the words of the songs a lot of the time. It also took a long time for the plot to come together, even allowing for the improvised nature of the show. Towards the end though, the disparate storylines (quite literally) collided and I thought the subsequent mixing of the characters was very good. They also made good use of references to earlier jokes and imagined items to create an exciting climax.
As is usually the case with improv, it didn’t all work, yet the singing and song construction was of a consistently high quality - even if it lacked cohesion overall and the plot made little sense. The cast were clearly enjoying themselves, and made humorous use of small mistakes and inevitable confusion. Independence Day: Resurgence will never be the same again.