RACHEL Thorn and Alex Keen tell JOELY MCEWAN about their improvised show, which uses anecdotes from audience members to tell the story of a couple

Are you a real life couple?

Rachel: The answer’s no because I’m married and have a child.

Alex: I’m gay, so if there’s an opposite of a couple, it would be us.

What is it like to pretend to be in love?

R: It feels amazing. We’re very physical with each other. There’s a theory in some circles of improvisation that you can’t kiss on stage because it’s not real. Well, that’s not true. I quite like it when we’ve had quite an intense rehearsal at one of our houses and our real life partner walks in and we’re just like, “hey, how you doing?”.

Is it nerve-wracking not to have a set plan for the show?

R: No. It just feels fabulous. It’s like hanging up your real self at the door. After the show, I have a character hangover. It’s a really intense experience, becoming another person who is in another relationship. I think it’s probably why people take drugs but we don’t need to. We have improv.

A: Having two of us there, a lot of the rehearsal process is building that trust and that intimate understanding of each other’s style.

What is the weirdest thing that an audience member has suggested?

A: The way we get our suggestions is asking audiences to think of a person they know in real life and ask them to share something about them that’s interesting. One very drunk man shouted, “Alexander the Great!” and insisted that I was Alexander the Great. So, we turned that into my character having a father who was Greek and told him stories of Alexander when he was a child.

What does it mean to you to perform at Brighton Fringe?

R: I’m so excited. I performed before at Brighton Fringe for two or three years in a row with CSI: Crime Scene Improvisation and I think it’s the best Fringe there is. I just think Brighton hits that midpoint of being a massive festival, loads of choice, but also being accessible.

What is your favourite thing about Brighton?

R: When I perform with CSI, we usually have a laser quest contest with another improvisation group and we always go to the beach. Then we go to the pub to have a unicorn horn which is just alcohol and sherbet.

A: I love the shopping, with the markets and boutiques. There are many fantastic places for vintage clothing. I’ve got a passion for big, old coats so there’s always something to dig out there.

Do you think performing this show has made your friendship stronger?

A: I think it would be very hard to do something like this well and not get comfortable with each other. A lot of our rehearsals end up being long conversations about people we know or about relationships. We put a block on going too deep into the details about past relationships, just so that doesn’t influence our performance. We’re really good friends.

R: I feel like I know Alex in a way that you know a sibling, where I know all these horrendous flaws which are really annoying. It’s just that the way that we know each other is unlike any other relationship.

Between Us

Brighton Fringe, The Warren, tonight to Monday, May 7, various times, brightonfringe.org