The Noise Next Door

The Noise Next Door. Image shows from L to R: Charlie Granville, Tom Houghton, Tom Livingstone, Matt Grant, Sam Pacelli.Sometimes you walk into a well-reviewed show, watch the acts bounce on, immediately realise you've made a terrible mistake and endure an hour of the most heinous torture if you can't face a big obvious walkout. Less frequently, you sit down, are equally convinced you've made a terrible mistake but end up with a grudging admiration for an act whose regular demographic you're clearly nowhere near.

Quietly becoming one of the Fringe's guaranteed bum-on-seat stalwarts, this improv quintet represent a side of the festival many of us know exist but would never actively visit. They're unapologetically posh, bereft of any discernable edge, popular mostly with young teens and the middle-aged (on this afternoon's showing at least), and annoyingly talented.

Improv is a term that makes many a stand-up fan shudder - even Microsoft Word tries to change it every time it's typed, to the rather damning 'improve!' - and the Noise Next Door schtick would be painful if it wasn't so well-honed. They're fresh-faced, terribly eager and carefully delineate themselves via differently coloured ties like some gormless male version of The Spice Girls. And yet you can't help but marvel at the sharpness of their collective wit.

You wouldn't go so far as to call it rapier-like, mind you, as it clearly isn't intended to cause any offence whatsoever. At one point someone shouts "London riots!" in response to a request for topics, which causes a minor wobble and is promptly ignored in favour of something utterly non-incendiary. Several request-led sketches do reference the works of JK Rowling, however, which tells you much about their audience.

You might even think The Noise Next Door were a church group if they didn't happily embrace "Jehova's Witnesses" as an improv topic, then get hopelessly and humorously confused about Jesus' role in it all. Still, approach with caution, but don't worry too much, as it's probably long since sold out anyway. Harry Potter fans do love to queue for things early.

Listing for The Noise Next Door - Their Finest Hour