Edinburgh Fringe 2022
CSI: Crime Scene Improv
No one knows who the killer is, not even the cast! The hit improvised murder mystery returns for a fifth year.
Hi Sarah, thank you for talking to The New Current, how have you been keeping?
I’m excellent thanks, in a joyful bubble of being at the Fringe again.
What has it meant to you to be at Edinburgh Fringe and Underbelly with Crime Scene Improvisation after everything that has happened?
Honestly it’s brought a small tear to the eye to be back (very small of course, the espresso martinis make me very dehydrated) It’s always been a dream working with Underbelly and stepping back into Ermintrude felt very homely!
Were there any nerves ahead of your first show?
You know what, we had a very weird calm zen warm up and just felt very ready. We’ve been honing our techniques the past couple of years so we’re back better than ever (She says) The first show was a lot of fun and the audience were fabulous. They’re all allowed back.
In-between your show how do hope to get a chance to see other shows at the fringe?
We see as much as possible, we’re very jammy because we’re done by 4.30 each day ready to see everything. And luckily you can also catch me before CSI at midday in my debut solo show ‘Cordelia Butters Investigates’ (A Comedy True Crime Documentary) and later Mike at 9.05pm in his show ‘Lil’ Saffron: Ragu to Riches’. A full day of CSI team plays, why not?? Don’t answer that.
You have gained huge praise for your shows having multiple sell-out seasons, what do you think it is about Crime Scene Improvisation that connects so well with audiences?
There’s a beautiful ‘we’re in this together’ vibe with our shows, each show is 100% unique, only the people in the room will ever experience that show. That’s live theatre at it’s best I think, something utterly live, and you can really feel that energy in the room.
Can you tell me a little bit about Crime Scene Improvisation, how did this all come about?
In the distant, shiny past of 2014 I was an actor looking for a hobby, and for some reason all I could think about was Improv. (That’s a lie I also tried hockey but it was terrifying. Less chance of having teeth bashed out in improv - not impossible - but less likely.) Finally I gave in and entered this strange, joyful world of make-em-ups and quickly met up with 4 other like minded folks and CSI was born. We’ve now grown to a company of 10 and each player has contributed so much to evolve into what we are now.
Because so much relies on the audience does part of the fun the cast have the not knowing what might happen during any particular show?
I cannot tell you how fun that is…the audience get so involved it’s honestly hilarious. Today we did a show where one player had to write the Roman Numerals for 4 on the whiteboard and the entire 200 strong audience were screaming at her when she wrote it wrong, it was quite something, its was only in the first 5 mins of the show and I was crying with laughter before we even began.
What are the biggest challenges you face bringing a show like this to the fringe?
To rest as well as work hard and play hard….must rest and re-charge and - oh wait I’ve accidentally ended up at Massioke again.
What has been the most interesting thing you have discovered about yourself and the theatre you want to create after since writing and performing We Are Traffic: An Uber Adventure?
I don’t remember writing or performing in this, so it must have been FANTASTIC! I look forward to forgetting my other masterpieces such as ‘I am Jacket: An Outerwear Adventure’ and my award winning ‘Beef - Fish of the Land’.
Have you always had a passion for theatre?
Yes and for comedy so it was always inevitable I suppose. Over the years of which we must not speak, I couldn’t believe how much I deeply missed theatre. We actually played an outside gig in July 2020, it was one of the very first shows, if not the first live show to be performed in London at the time and if there was ever an experience to remind us all of how fabulous live theatre is, that was it.
How did The Chandeliers Theatre Company come about?
Two members met at a workshop and decided over a drink: “lets do an improvised murder mystery” they then found 3 more of us and we spent 5 months locked in a room working out how on earth to do this! We eventually improvised a door and got out of the room onto a stage and now get to perform all over the place to incredible audiences, we feel very lucky. We are actually listed as one of the top 10 things to do in Luxembourg, so that’s a claim to fame none of us knew we needed.
Has your approach to the shows you create changed much since you started out?
Well yes in that we are considerably better now than 8 years ago…BUT also no…because we always wanted this to be a theatre show where a non improv audience can feel safe and experience a high quality comedy improvised play. The audience experience is still our priority, we interact with them a lot more than many improv shows so we like to build a real rapport with them.
"It might be the worst show in the world but you’ll get a story out of it and have a good laugh afterwards…after a large drink...a safe distance away."
What has been the best piece of advice you have been given and do you have any advice you would offer anyone making their fringe debut?
I did my first Fringe in 2008 and was told by a director “don’t bother seeing anything, only our play is good”. I swiftly ignored that advice and see everything I can get my paws on. Be inspired, see everything, watch big things and completely bonkers things. It might be the worst show in the world but you’ll get a story out of it and have a good laugh afterwards…after a large drink….a safe distance away.
And finally, what do you hope your audiences will take away from Crime Scene Improvisation?
A truly unique experience. And if they’re lucky, my phone number.