Crybabies @ Pleasance Dome
Crybabies' new show Bagbeard is a lo-fi mashup of Hollywood tropes, delivered with a distinctively British sketch sensibility
High concept but lo-fi, Crybabies’ new show feels genuinely universal in appeal, and, in its screwball inventiveness, very much committed to the spirit of play. It’s a sci-fi tale of an ambitious young scientist who stumbles upon alien life form Bagbeard, and the show is a mashup of all kinds of familiar Hollywood tropes, but played out with a distinctively British sketch sensibility.
The show is almost ludicrously ambitious in its storytelling: a large cast of characters (played by the three members of the group, Ed, James and Michael), multiple locations, and complex temporal shifts. It’s also resolutely daft, and there’s a lot of rough and ready punning and play on words, but with plenty of moments when the deliberately asinine humour works beautifully. Take Bagbeard’s back story, for example, with its utterly stupid and hilarious punchline.
This interplay between the high-concept and the DIY continues in the production design, with props and costumes that are comically crappy but sophisticated in their amateurishness, and the shadow play in particular is hugely inventive. There’s a similar paradox in the appeal of the narrative itself: it’s a story that’s obviously absurd and tongue-in-cheek, but it’s also perversely rather sweet, and the romance we are promised does come to pass, much to the audience’s delight.
There’s a satisfyingly thought-through aesthetic at work in Bagbeard, which suggests we’ll be hearing a lot more from Crybabies. Good thing too, because this show is both a timely celebration of the possibilities of the lo-fi, and a really joyful experience.
Crybabies: Bagbeard, Pleasance Dome (10 Dome), until 28 Aug, 5.50pm, £10.50-12