The Beta Males (4 stars)

This article is from 2011.

The Beta Males

Good scripting and coming timing from the funny foursome

A stonking show this one as a slick quartet channel the Dutch Elm Conservatoire for a rollercoaster of a journey on the sinister train, Olympus. Skulduggery is afoot with a cast including four manic businessmen, Stephen Byers and the Titanic love duo. A quality script merges with wonderful comic timing. All aboard.

Pleasance Dome, 556 6550, until 29 Aug, 4.20pm, £10–£11 (£8.50–£9.50)

The Beta Males: The Train Job

  • 4 stars

A runaway train. A desperate hijack. A deadly cargo. Following last year's post-apocalyptic Edinburgh hit The Bunker, critically acclaimed sketch troupe the Beta Males welcome you aboard their latest comedy thrill-ride,‘The Train Job’. Book your tickets for a sketch show which hurtles like a juggernaut through a world of…

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1. David Cox28 Aug 2011, 11:50am Report

Awash with all the diversity the World’s biggest arts festival can offer, it’s increasingly difficult for new comedy to stand out in the Scottish Capital.. Stand-up’s rife sure, but a four-man comedy sketch group at the Edinburgh Festival? Insanity? Well, perhaps. A staggeringly timed, stratospheric leap into the best the Fringe can offer? Undoubtedly.

I ought to point out now that I had never previously met the Beta Males (though did bother Rich in the street soon afterwards), but was there on the back of a tremendous flyer. I have nothing to gain from layering hyperbole onto superlative onto gush. I hate many, many, many things. However, I’m definitely at a push and possibly at a loss to point out an Edinburgh show that I have enjoyed more than the hypnotic world presented in The Train Job.

The Beta Males quote those perennial Edinburgh favourites The Penny Dreadfuls as their heroes, and they’ve gone a hell of a long way to fill their vacuum created by their absence. How a comedy play can be so relentless for an hour with not a single joke falling flat is beyond me, but is far from beyond those Beta Males. Funny writing hits hilarious performance and then smashes into staggering choreography and physical theatre in this 50 whirlwind of top-level comedy.

Fourth paragraph then. Criticism time. Well, dear reader, I’m struggling. Some of the audience were a little ridiculous – raucous, aggressive, territory-marking guffaws at the early titters. Sure, that’s stuff’s great in a naff play – but these people are comedy legends in the making. But there, you see? I’m criticising laughter in a comedy. And it’s not even theirs. Still, being able to write whilst clutching this straw is a talent in itself.

Reviews abound, sure but take heed. If I had the power, in vocabulary or threat, I would do all I could to make you see this show. Each sketch scene adds up to a ridiculously satisfying whole. Direct parody, tenuous parody and abundant exuberance chug at you like a juggernaut. If you’ve seen the achingly funny The 39 Steps or the already mentioned Penny Dreadfuls with Aeneas Faversham Forever, this rivals them at least. If you haven’t, it will be the funniest play you’ve ever seen. Your jaws will ache, your minds will shake; Pleasance Illuminati be warned, The Beta Males are coming.

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