Improv Your Biz
Workshop for Businesses

L Vaughan Spencer


Eddie Izzard, Stephen Frost, Suki Webster, and Neil Mullarkey

We toured all over England, Scotland and Ireland, even doing a couple of dates in Paris and Amsterdam before a sell-out run at the Albery Theatre in the West End.

We would simply take one word from the audience and start improvising. It might last ten minutes or ten seconds, we never knew in advance. Then we would take another word and so on. It was great fun, especially in the West End where we managed to regularly smash up the furniture on stage."

A Revue at the Lyric, Hammersmith.

It was such fun to work with Dawn French, Sheila Hancock and Des Barrit. It also featured superb sketches by Stephen Fry, Harold Pinter, N. F. Simpson and the cast."


In 2001 Neil toured England with an all-star production of Charley's Aunt.

Review - Slough Observer
"It is Neil Mullarkey who steals this production as Lord Fancourt Babberley and 'Charley's Aunt' . . . masterful."

The Slough Observer
Charley's Aunt - Theatre Royal Windsor
Starring Eric Sykes, Christopher Biggins, Nyree Dawn Porter, Francis Matthews and Neil Mullarkey

AFTER more than 100 years since it was first performed, 'Charley's Aunt' by Brandon Thomas is still pulling in the audiences. And at the Theatre Royal Windsor, the latest incarnation of this classic piece of English comedy continues to deserve praise.

Of course, when the stars include Eric Sykes, Christopher Biggins, Francis Matthews and Nyree Dawn Porter plus quality showings by Dominic Kemp, Richard Hodder, Charlotte Parry, Stephanie Chambers and Tilly Gaunt then entertainment should be guaranteed.

But it is Neil Mullarkey who steals this production as Lord Fancourt Babberley and 'Charley's Aunt'. His impersonation to replace a late arriving aunt in a desperate attempt to provide the necessary chaperone for the two students to entertain two young girls, is masterful.

Once he is dressed in the Victorian equivalent of a withdrawing room, he plays the role for all it is worth with a great deal of skill but also a casualness of style that has the audience eating out of his hand.

Eric Sykes is wonderful as the college scout, bumbling on and off stage and easily providing laugh after laugh - his turning of a squeaking trolley into the supermarket equivalent and the banging of a dinner gong are side-splitting.

There are three set changes and two intervals which help the recovery from laughter, but the entertainment is maintained despite the well expected ending. Precise timing and speed of action also contribute to this production, and even Eric's forgotten lines at the start of Act III turned into yet another house full of laughter. Neil Mullarkey even succumbed when he couldn't light a cigar and added to the script: "I've been dressed as a woman for so long, I've even forgotten how to light a cigar."

Everyone on stage played their part to make this one of the best comedies I've seen on stage for a long time - I thoroughly recommend it to everyone.

Review - Eastern Daily Press
"Another big bonus is that in casting Neil Mullarkey as Lord Fancourt Babberley.. a comedy actor with a sense of humour to match the text, a wonderfully malleable face and, not least, an enviable sense of timing."

Eastern Daily Press
Charley's Aunt @ Theatre Royal, Norwich
By Charles Roberts - May 19, 2001

Classic with the feel-good factor

Charley's Aunt is much more than a splendidly enduring comedy. It is also a vibrant comic vehicle which responds generously and wholeheartedly to whatever interpretations are imposed upon it.

So though it is, and always will be, a great comedy classic, it obligingly at the Theatre Royal this week accepts a motley cloak of many colours: farce, pantomime, stand-up music-hall – and yes, a vein of real comedy too.

Result: last night's full house roared its approval at final curtain. And by then, even this reviewer, veteran of many productions of Brandon Thomas's feel-good masterpiece, was happy to put by most of his cavils and join zestfully in the applause.

This production looks a treat, with engaging sets and a blue-skied panorama of dreaming Oxford spires; and elegant costumes wholly true to the period. But, appealing as its cast undoubtedly is, it took some time to get into its stride, held back by some heavy-handed direction – and by that cavalier mix of theatrical species.

In particular, it took a winning chance in casting that adorable, wonderfully funny entertainer Eric Sykes as Brassett, a College Scout -quite apart from giving him a few dozen lines which Brandon Thomas never wrote; and a good few more which Mr Sykes made up himself.

Sykes takes wicked advantage of this freedom, throws in visual gags with abandon, talks to the audience like an Edwardian music hall comic, goes way, way over the top – and we adore it, because Sykes is of that old school which knows infallibly how to manipulate us effortlessly, and with our willing compliance.

Another big bonus is that in casting Neil Mullarkey as Lord Fancourt Babberley - he who dons frock and petticoats as the eponymous Charley's Aunt – this production has a comedy actor with a sense of humour to match the text, a wonderfully malleable face and, not least, an enviable sense of timing.

He carries off with honours a particularly hilarious visual gag when, while pouring tea (still in the guise of Donna Lucia, the Lady from Brazil) he spots “baddie” Mr Spettigue's top hat, conveniently upturned. Thereupon, he goes through delicious indecision as he longs to pour tea into it, and finally gives way to the act. It happens, unseen by nine other characters on stage, which adds to the humour. In common with many others last night, I laughed until the tears ran.

Dillie Keane plays the real Donna Lucia, with a reserved sang froid alternating with ladylike simpers. She also corpses (laughs when she shouldn't orter) at the top-hat-tea routine, which Lucia is supposed not to notice.

The girls are delightful, their beaux fit the picture like images stepped from sepia photos; and the mature gentlemen of the tale trumpet the good news that old violins can still play some of the best tunes.

So Charley's Aunt triumphs again, a tonic of an evening from which one emerges “feeling good”!

original review at edp24.co.uk


Throughout 2000 and culminating in Spring 2001 with a West End run, at the Soho Theatre, Neil performed "All That Mullarkey" his acclaimed one man show, that chronicles the illustrious history of the Mullarkey ancestry, and its extraordinary impact on the world. Neil portrays, amongst others, the Mullarkey who wrote all of Shakespeare's plays (even the difficult ones), the Mullarkey who split the atom and the Mullarkey who invented contemporary dance.

For years people have assumed he made up his surname, but it is first recorded in 1615. In 1890 there were only twenty-one bearers of the name in the whole of Ireland, all of whom lived in Connacht. But Neil's great-grandfather had already left for England...

Audience Reviews

Tony Slattery
"An absolute triumph, rampant absurdism, bizarre scholasticism, a genius performance, fascinating and completely original.
Shades of James Joyce and William Burroughs. Astonishing dancing!" (which he liked so much he is going to help with some additional choreography - Neil)

Josie Lawrence
"Brilliant. Strong characters. I loved the Frenchman. The moments of madness were fantastic."

Tony Hawks
"The best bits were the true bits. I loved the re-enactment of the meeting with another Mullarkey. The dancing stuff was great."

Robert Bathurst ("Cold Feet")
Well done on Thursday. Assured, funny and skilful

Ian Mullarkey
I'm writing to congratulate you on your outstanding show. It combined a mixture of hilarious characters with its most unusual, yet truly comic, storyline. It is remarkable that the 'Mullarkey' surname could spawn so much comedy. I thoroughly enjoyed the performance, both in light of the subject matter, and beyond.

Amanda Fitzalan Howard
I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was so clever and witty as well as being properly funny in a laughing out loud way and I now feel as qualified as the next man to talk with authority and at length about Mullarkeys in all their glory. As long as the next man is you, of course.

Naomi Jaffa
Both I and my very-hard-to-entertain partner Mike enjoyed it very much. I was interested to note we were probably the oldest people there - but that we laughed as much as anyone very many thanks for the most entertaining Saturday night out for a long time!

Georgina Yates
We thoroughly enjoyed every minute - sang 'We are Mullarkey' all the way home. Resounding success, hurrah for you!

Jo Painter
Just dropping you a line to say I enjoyed the show immensely on Thursday - fantastic evening.

Clive Howard
Your show on Friday was wonderful. It is really one of the best things you've done and improved each time I have seen it.

Isabelle Foss
Thank you for an excellent show on Friday evening. It was a real tour de force. You were on top form. The show seems even better somehow.

David Dickinson
It was easy to be a good laugher with such splendid provocation. I love the Conte Guillaume and various other idiosyncratic hilarities including haddock and its placement on a scale of 0 to trout. I loved the ease with the audience and the intimacy: for me the show really took off when inventive comic energy bursts through that shared base.

"Andrew Mallarkey:"
Just wanted to email you to let you know how much I enjoyed the show. My face was sore afterwards and I haven't laughed so much in ages!

"Jim and Susan Malarky"
Hi from Dunfermline. We enjoyed the show.

"John Connaghan":
Good material, great delivery. Keep up the good work.

"Angus Pollok McCall":
I enjoyed the show very much.

I caught your show at the Gilded Balloon (Paul Merton was in the audience and a rather nice chap called Dobie). Anyway, I just thought I'd let you know that I thought the show was brill and I'm really sorry that I'm not a Mullarkey myself.

"Paul Dobie":
Thank you for putting on what was the most entertaining show that we witnessed in our visit to the festival. Also, thank you for returning my credit card after you had ascertained that my name was indeed Paul Dobie. What does vg stand for in your internet address?

"Elly Brewer":
I really enjoyed the show, it was such fun and it made me laugh so much - just the job after three long Festival days!

"Louis Jones":
Having tried, unsuccessfully, at the Gilded Balloon for a few minutes' conversation, I am taking the liberty of writing to congratulate you on your splendid show, which captivated me completely. (I was the chap yesterday who had heard of Pina Bausch!). If we take for granted the meticulous preparation and superb skill of presentation involved, two salient features appealed to me particularly. You do not underestimate the intelligence of your audience or its capacity to catch an allusion and, most refreshingly, all your material is absolutely clean and free of foul language.

"Melissa Bartley":
I attended "All That Mullarkey" and "Whose In It Anyway?" [This was the improv show I guested in occasionally with my chums Stephen Frost, Andy Smart and Richard Vranch - NEIL] and I must say, your performances were the highlight of my venue-hopping holiday. You have a foxy sense of humor.

"Cara Winters" (formerly Winterbottom - so my Grandad tells me!):
I was delighted to see your show at the festival this year - original, very amusing and a lot of it true! Keep up the good work.

"Dawn Ellis" (BBC Radio Producer):
I really enjoyed it - by far one of the best things I saw up there.

"Helen Moon":
The best show I saw in Edinburgh.

"Matt Tee"
"Thanks for the entertaining site and show. I'm the Mr Tee who was silly enough to sit in the front row for your show at the East Dulwich Tavern last night. I like shows about names, given the grief mine gave me as a kid. We (the nice woman who isn't Mrs Tee - yet - and I) saw you in Edinburgh this year and liked the show enough to think it was worth seeing again. We were right. We might even see it again. (but I'll seek mid-audience obscurity!). Thanks again

"Samantha Brocklebank" (from Canada)
I saw the show twice in Edinburgh. Thank you for such a great time. Even 3 months later we are still laughing. Only yesterday, I said to my friend, "De quelle couleur est ton veston?" and she insisted she was a mushroom. [IF YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT SHE IS REFERRING TO - COME AND SEE THE SHOW ...NEIL] Is there any chance of the show being available on video? I would gladly pay heaps of money for the interpretive dance section alone.

Mike Rees
We really enjoyed ourselves and it paid off seeing the show a second time as it had changed a lot since the try-outs earlier in the year. We thought the dialogue with the audience on surnames kicked it off really well and enjoyed the more surreal stuff too (but please, any particular hints on how to retell stuff like your ballet scene to the reading of the communist manifesto?). I'm glad I've caught up with you on this project - it not only has universal appeal (surnames etc) but I connect a little with it personally too! Good luck with it all.

Mei Chan
I enjoyed your performance last night very much. You are indeed a very gifted person, a talented comedian.

Leon Kotze
Thanks for a great show. I enjoyed it, especially the sections consisting of the acronyms, the cricket dance choreography, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and Wittgenstein's philosophy...

Juliet Blight
I want to thank you. We loved the show. What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday night. Lines from the show keep popping into my head and making me smile. It was a wonderful blend of physical and verbal humour and you absolutely must perform the show again next year. I particularly want to re-acquaint myself with Guillaume - a truly pleasing invention. I loved your interaction with the audience - so refreshingly good-natured. We all seemed like your chums by the end of the show. The older couple next to us kept laughing and holding hands, enjoying the experience together.

Julia Lampshire
I wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed the show. Great fun, as always.

Kathy Brister and her friend Sarah
We both thought it was fantastic. Congratulations. How do you remember everything so well? You are a very very funny man. And the Comedy Store Players are truly excellent.

Peter Treganna
I thought it was very funny and have already recommended it.

Judy Rantzen
Thanks for easily the most fun and easy-to-organise birthday party that I have ever had. Please put me on your mailing list.

Flaminia Cinque
I really enjoyed it. What an entertaining show.

Fiona Mullarkey
Thank you for being a catalyst for a mini family reunion. We genuinely thought the show was very funny.

Ciaran Hinds
It was wonderful. Brilliant.

Donald Sumpter
I really loved it. I could have watched you all night.

Clarissa and Paddy Zervudachi
It was great. We loved it. And, days later, we are still sing the "Neil Mullarkey Chorus".

"Amazing. Spontaneously charming and brilliant. Fantastic."

"The stuff of genius!"

(cousin of the John, Jim, Maggie and Angie Mullarkey)
"We all agreed what a great time we had and how good it was to meet you. I have to say I haven't laughed so much in a long time. We remarked how some of the things you said were so very Irish - probably something you hadn't realised. All the best for your show - you deserve success."

"The ways he demonstrated his name and its history was very clever but with a funny twist. I enjoyed it very much and would recommend it to my friends."

"An excellent idea for a one-man show. It took a lot of thought and research. He couldn't have done it without his brilliant characterisation skills and flair for stand-up comedy."

"It was excellent, f**king brilliant."

"I loved the show."

"It was the most electrifying stand-up comedy I have ever seen."

Review: The Stage
"Neil Mullarkey had me pissing myself.."

The Stage
Gilded Balloon Edinburgh
All That Mullarkey

It is not every day that a comedian finds vicious critic (me) and vicious magician (Jerry Sadowitz) at either end of a pew, faces grim, arms folded in defiant 'so make me laugh' mode.

Well Neil Mullarkey had me pissing myself (and I swear out of the corner of my eye I caught the flicker of a smile from Jerry).

It is a simple enough formula. Mullarkey lures you into his genealogical lair to discuss the meaning of surnames and their effect on your personality.

Stung by jibes by his own similitude to "malarky" - as in 'all that' - he launches into a Twilight Zone of loopy ancestors and namesakes to unstain his besmirched appellation.

I'm not sure how Mullarkey does it, but he deftly weaves his own personal magic to blur the boundary between fact and fantasy as well as that between audience and performer, provoking a sweet fear of being pounced on to answer the man's probing questions.

Review: Essex Courier
"Quite simply one of the funniest shows
I have ever seen"