Aeneas Faversham Forever (5 stars)

This article is from 2008

Aeneas Faversham Forever

Dreadfuls give us a daring, playful and epic tale

A trio of Victorian gentlemen humourists, the Penny Dreadfuls bring you the visually resplendent, aurally pleasurable Aeneas Faversham Forever, one of this year’s most scrumptious and comically edifying Fringe treats. Something shadily undefined yet malevolent, concerning bad oysters and the wicked Mr Frost (Humphrey Ker), is roiling in the bowels of London. Children’s author Rufus Hambleden (David Reed) is caught up in the conspiracy threatening the Empire and the world, and disgraced policeman ‘Mac’ (Thom Tuck) is hauled back into the fray to tackle the evil head on.

Raw talent needs few props to unravel such a tale. A minimalist stage, dramatically lit, has nought but a small screen centre stage for the purveyance of wonderful paper cut silhouettes throughout. Haunting musical numbers set the scene with a pungent sense of fearful promise and plunge us into a web of villainy and death. With Brechtian insouciance, the trio coquettishly tinker with theatrical bounds of space and sound and movement, conjuring an environment that exists mostly by virtue of their richly imaginative machinations.

Props are illusory, sounds caught up with or slowed down for, and all with such knowing comic ability that the effect is simultaneously elaborate yet simple, as gratifying as the oldest joke in the world. Donning dapper Victoriana, the changes are swift, and the inventiveness with which all three dart in and out of different characters simply genius. Mesmeric, puckish, versatile and joyously playful, best of all is the tingling presentiment of watching a trio who should one day join the pedestal of Pythonic, Blackaddery excellence. Priceless.

Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 25 Aug, 7.10pm, £9.50–£10.50 (£8–£9).

Aeneas Faversham Forever

  • 5 stars

A blistering and mind-bending assault on the senses as the Penny Dreadfuls are in for a pound with some heavy-duty narrative brilliance. 'Part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe'.