Society’s obsession with the true crime genre knows no bounds, so Pillow Talk Theatre have capitalised upon this by creating Criminally Untrue, a completely improvised and never before seen true crime documentary.

Upon entering the space, a projection of a board of sticky notes immediately grabs your attention. The notes display: people, suspects, locations, clues, and dates, Dru Cripps on the sound desk fills in the details as we progress, with all elements taken from audience suggestions. We ended up with Problem With The Pool(try) – a food crime committed at an underground swimming pool in Manchester. Someone has tampered with the chicken nuggets!

In keeping with a documentary, during some sections of the show, a hot seat is used with the cast taking turns speaking to the imaginary camera. Each cast member taps the shoulder of the person sitting in the seat to take over from them, and hilarious, outlandish characters are created in front of us. This is quite a chaotic moment within the show, as it’s filled with the ideas of five people, bouncing off of suggestions from the audience and each other, thus being slightly convoluted with ideas and difficult to follow, although Dru Cripps’ notes help us here.

The cast is formed of Jonathan Oldfield, Lorna Rose Treen, Steve Duffy, Orla Newmark, and Will Hughes, all of them prove effortlessly funny, you can tell that an hour spent with them offstage would also be hilarious. They work incredibly well together, to the point that they seem able to predict what the other is going to do at times, joining in immediately, building on ideas, and heightening the comedic effect.

Will Hughes is hysterical throughout, displaying excellent comedic timing by allowing jokes to properly land before progressing. He brilliantly incorporates the sound of the train’s overhead into a bit, by announcing that the scene is taking place at Heathrow airport. Jonathan Oldfield has an impressive stage presence, commanding attention and working the crowd splendidly. Each character he creates, he fully embodies, creating mannerisms which mean we know exactly who he has become each time he morphs into them. The cast take on a wide variety of accents and dialects during the performance, and I had no idea which voices were actually their own by the end of the show.

As if the show couldn’t get more random, when someone is chosen from the audience to be the lawyer, it turns out he genuinely is one!

Criminally Untrue has a winning formula, the segments included are a stroke of genius, from a bit where conspiracy theories play out in front of us, to the ending in which the cast interacts with the audience, answering our questions on what we’ve just seen, in character.

Every member of this cast gives a stellar performance, all highly energetic, and hysterically funny. This is one of the best improv shows I’ve seen, it is incredibly well thought out and structured. Side-splittingly funny from beginning to end, this is a show that lovers of comedy and true crime will adore, Netflix is seriously missing a trick here, as this is a show I could binge-watch!

Rating: 4 out of 5.


VAULT Festival has been left without a venue for 2024’s festival and beyond
• VAULT Festival have launched a #SaveVAULT campaign
• The campaign aims are to raise £150,000 by 19th March to support the festival’s survival AND to secure a new home for the festival to continue.
• You can help by donating, helping access funding networks, and helping then find a venue.
• You are officially implored to make the most of 2023’s Festival while it lasts!

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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