Chesca goes to Holland

SUCCESS! The Imps managed to all convene at the airport, get on a plane, and arrive in Utrecht – land of Hagelslag (a marvellous chocolate sprinkle, “but a bit less solid, so when they go on the butter, and in your mouth, they melt and stuff”[1]), cleanliness, canal-strolling-bliss and the most welcoming people in the whole of Holland. Little did they know that Chesca would be recording it all on her ever expanding word document, in order to relate back tales of bravery and tom-foolery to the Imp-watchers of England…. Mwhahaha.

What did the Imps do when plonked in the middle of Utrecht I hear you cry? Well, we climbed the tallest tower in Europe – The Dom – for which Harry insisted on counting each and every step. (There were 465, thank you Harry, sometimes Google can lie, thus one must be always vigilant) We hired a machine boat to cruise the canals too; they saw us rollin’, but they weren’t hatin’, cos the Dutch are very pleasant, however we were hollered at by some angry protesters who were convinced we had stolen their boat… we didn’t, we promise. We dined out like kings on super-uber-chip-cones, larger than the body of a small infant, and strange fast-food meat sticks heated before your eyes in rows of tiny individual microwaves. For those fleeting, sunny days, Utrecht was our oyster, and we intended to slurp it with the decadence of a thousand Byrons.

“BUT THE IMPROV?” I hear you exclaim “WHAT ABOUT THE IMPROV?” – Indeed, Parnassos (our Utrechtian counterparts) did a marvellous job of welcoming us into their realm: a beautiful and vast building, with doors so tall that even Xander (our towering pianist) could do no more but nod in respect. The light that gleaned in the eyes of Sam (our not so towering, but equally talented, pianist) at the sight of a lovely piano, and countless percussion instruments, was truly beautiful. Indeed, performing with such a full musical sound – including Xander on the accordion - really changed the way in which we interacted and adapted to the musicians’ roles within scenes too, thereby adding another dimension to the already new experience of performing on a massive proscenium-arch stage. However, fear not, poor little Wheatsheaf, we still love you. We learnt some new games, including an utterly manic warm-up called “Bop-the-Weasel” (make of that, what you will…) and stepped into the alien form of improv-battles…

“The Theme!” you might say, “Surely there was a theme…” Indeed, wise imaginary person, there was a theme, and it was ‘Playboy’. Indeed, the Judge panel consisted of a rather specious looking Hugh Heffner, and a charming Playboy Bunny. As the Imps and Parnassos challenged each other to some games, the audience lobbed wet sponges at any harsh comments coming from the judges (don’t get any ideas, Wheatsheaf audience…) and hurled roses for the acts they enjoyed (Okay, maybe take a few ideas…). The whole affair culminated in a soap-opera style long-form, in which Imps and Parnassos alike took to the stage in a collaboration like no other. There was scandal, illicit affairs in janitor’s closets, institutionalised test-subjects, and a homicidal dinner lady whose love for the cheating janitor had grown as cold as the soup she served. Melodrama at its finest. And to top it all off, there was a costume rack, positioned tantalisingly at the back of the stage, that allowed Harry to strut his stuff in a pair of ruby red heels, and Lucy to transform into a strange ski-rapper. (I do encourage you to see the photos on the Parnassos’ Facebook page, they are a beautiful spectacle to behold)

Off the stage and onto the dance-floor we frolicked; straight to the famous nightclub ‘Derek’. Descending into what can only be described as a 70s/80s underground mirror palace, filled with lurid neon lights, we boogied on down – surrounded by walls made of mirrors, that allowed one to chart one’s own descent into a slightly sweaty imp-puddle as the night progressed… but alas, soon the clock struck midni…erm... 3 am, and it was time to depart. As the night crept by slowly into morning, the Imps too began their journey home…very slowly (for they were weary). By some miracle – and by miracle I mean a train, a coach, a plane, and another bus - we set foot on the familiar cobbles of Oxford town, contented, exhausted, and buzzing with tales of Bopping Weasels and Hagelslag… We will never forget our trip, our friends in Utrecht, or our wild improv shenanigans. Truly, they opened their homes and their hearts to us, and for that we are extremely grateful. Thus, to Parnassos we say: Dankjewel, ond we hopen u weer te zien volgend jaar!

[1] Lucy Shenton