The Beta Males Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2012
Cold War paranoia, a classified British space programme and morris dancing
This article is from 2012.
Cold War paranoia. A classified British space programme. And morris dancing. Welcome to the lovingly crafted, lunatic universe of The Beta Males. After last year’s acclaimed, contemporary juggernaut The Train Job, they’re returning to science-fiction for their fourth sketch narrative, set in the idyllic, rural village of Lower Birchley, circa 1969.
Speaking to us collectively from mission control, The Beta Males have successfully channelled their proclivity for ‘watching bad movies and not kissing girls’, with founder member John Henry Falle accompanied by Jon Gracey, Guy Kelly and Richard Soames in performing slick, multi-character, occasionally cross-dressing ‘genre hi-jinks’. Nominated for best sketch/character act at this year’s Chortle Awards, these inventive ‘honking great nerds’ have been variously inspired to create The Space Race by Philip K Dick’s novels, Warren Ellis’ comics, 2001, The Kinks, Jon Pertwee-era Doctor Who and the British Black Arrow rocket which hangs in London’s Science Museum, ‘like some forlorn space penis’
They’re supported by a backroom team of additional writers, a director and an SFX specialist that would put NASA to shame. Their space agency’s ultimate ambition is this: ‘remember the Megazord in Power Rangers? Like that, but naked.’ The quartet are also hosting The Beta Males’ Midnight Movie Theatre, in which they present a schlock-horror masterpiece and ‘mess around with it using live audience games, a whole load of Fringey guests and very, very scary special effects’.
Essentially, they’re, ‘caught in a state of perpetual boyhood, in love with big childish stories like Star Wars and James Bond. At their best, sketches are just a three-minute chunk of a bigger story, so why not make that story as big as you possibly can? You’re just seeing three minutes that got pushed to a natural, stupid end-point.’
The Space Race, Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, 4–27 Aug (not 14), 5.45pm, £10–£11 (£8–£9). Previews until 3 Aug, £5
Midnight Movie Theatre, Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, 10 & 11, 17 & 18 Aug, 12.20am, £10 (£8).