Here’s a thing about BEAST’s 2014 Fringe show that tells you a lot about what to expect: by the end of the hour, the stage floor is so slick with water, sweat, and various other substances, when one of the performers slips and crashes to the floor after an energetic dash, you’re not sure if it was planned or if he’s really hurt himself. Signs of older bruises on the same performer inform you that BEASTS are willing to go pretty far in order to entertain.
BEASTS are Owen Roberts, James McNicholas and Ciarán Dowd, and the show is directed by Tom Parry, who previously directed that other great recent sketch group Pappy’s. BEASTS, though, reminded me more of The Young Ones in terms of pure anarchy and daftness. The usual sketch format is fiddled with this year, as the trio have gone their separate ways, and attempt to put on three solo shows in one venue at the same time. Owen tries to air his serious one-man play about Nelson Mandela, James wants to display his slightly maniacal magic show, while Ciarán wants to show everyone his genitals in the name of artful burlesque. The resulting chaos manages to elicit screams of laughter, and occasionally terror, from the audience, as the show descends into absolute madness, the kind that leads to bruises on the performer’s arms and legs. The audience, though, emerge unscathed, leaving only with sore cheeks from laughing so much.
While it all seems like uncontrollable disorder, it’s clear that this is one of the the better constructed sketch shows at the Fringe this year so far, and the player’s commitment to utter stupidity is admirable. Guaranteed to be a big draw in the years to come.