He Had Hairy Hands
kill the beast

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review (theatre): He Had Hairy Hands at Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33). Review by Sally Stott.

kill the beast

EVER thought “wouldn’t it be great to mash-up a 1970s cop drama with a gothic noir supernatural werewolf mystery and set it somewhere like Royston Vasey?” No? Well, thankfully the aptly named young company Kill the Beast have – and the result is a farcical romp that manages to make the familiar fresh through bizarre juxtapositions of film, TV and theatre archetypes that shouldn’t work but somehow do.

Writer/performers David Cumming, Natasha Hodgson, Oliver Jones and Zoe Roberts, with grotesque expressions emerging through melting white face paint, effortlessly shift between playing eccentric old women, backstreet abortionists, dancing sailor girls and a string of suspicious characters who may or may not be a murderer, or someone who transforms into one by moonlight.

So far, so Les Enfants Terribles you might think. However, trying to work out who is telling the truth and who is a blood-thirsty killer is a woman alone worth seeing the show for: Eglantine Whitechapel, an incongruous fusion of maverick cop, no-nonsense clown and gnarled superheroine.

Forced out of retirement and to leave her new job as fitness instructor (obviously) behind, she is a glorious creation with cheeseball one-liners (“they call me ‘miss’ because I never miss a shot”) who threatens her mild-mannered, “easy to talk to” and pleasantly ineffectual – or so it seems – predecessor Andy by ousting him from his job.

With upbeat song and dance numbers and an unapologetically silly sense of humour, it’s a highly entertaining hour and ten minutes that manages to make blood and guts seem as delightful as a homemade cake.

Energetically directed by Clem Garritty (who also co-writes), the pastiches might be familiar individually, but splicing them together has created something fresher, weirder and funnier. The characters might be heightened, but they’re recognisably human enough that when a few suffer grisly demises it’s rather sad to see them go.

Until 25 August. Today 6:30pm, more info

Originally published in The Scotsman

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