Edinburgh Fringe Reviews: Music and Mayhem

Sex, death and intrigue make for great song material, and go perfectly with a side of gags in these darkly comic musical numbers.

Feature by Jenni Ajderian | 15 Aug 2016

Polished, wonderfully staged and with a great soundtrack, Kill the Beast’s Don’t Fear the Damp [★★★] tells the story of Juniper Berry, a now-aged actor who found fame as a bimbo robot on a cult smash sci-fi show. About to be evicted from her futuristic high-rise flat, Juniper has to coordinate a teenage super-fan, a council planner dead set on procedure and an idiotic rich-kid dentist from the penthouse suite on a quest to save the world. All the while, ghosts from the past keep sneaking up behind her to remind her of her glory days and the mistakes she’s made along the way.

This is a future as imagined in the 80s, complete with bright face-paint, stock characters and cheesy theme tunes. A lot of time is taken up by bickering between characters that feels like stalling, and a couple of the songs only add to this feeling. Once we get down to the action though, we’re treated to high-velocity choreography and original staging techniques to create a really cinematic effect. The storyline sticks to good old fashioned sci-fi tropes, but still manages to give a voice to that oft-unrepresented character in the background with the big hair and the tight catsuit.

In another hour of excellent sketches, comedy duo Norris and Parker use parody songs and lycra to round off the edges of a show full of gallows humour, sexual tension and intense eye-contact with their audience. In See You At The Gallows [★★★★], they bring us an hour of sketches about killers, poets, internet villains and themselves. The on-stage relationship between the two comics is brought front and centre, with Parker constantly vying for Norris’ love and attention, only to be ignored and held back.

Throughout the show, they dance with issues of class, sexuality, age and gender with the odd dash of satire. Both keen improvisers with great comic timing, the pair give us a highly physical show where a slight hand movement has the same impact as a balletic routine sweeping across the stage. At times other-worldly and at times highly personal, this is late-night comedy for lovers of the strange, the sexy, the musical and the dark. 

Kill the Beast: Don't Wake the Damp, Pleasance Dome (King), 3-29 Aug (not 15 & 26), 3:00 pm, £6-12. Norris & Parker: See You at the Gallows, Pleasance Courtyard (Attic) 3-28 Aug (not 21), 10:45 pm, £6-9.50. http://www.edfringe.com