Gein's Family Giftshop: Volume 1 (3 stars)

This article is from 2014

Gein's Family Giftshop

2014 Edinburgh Fringe show from sketch group where the sick meets the subtle

The cult of young sketch groups going for the jugular marked ‘really offensive’ might not have started with the Late Night Gimp Fight boys. But they certainly lowered the bar for future contenders to hop over it and test how the depths could be further plumbed. On first glimpse, it might seem that Manchester trio Gein’s Family Giftshop (aka Ed Easton, Kath Hughes, James Meehan) have proudly taken up the cudgel.

For one thing, there’s the name, uneasily bringing to mind a souvenir and postcard emporium dedicated to the Wisconsin serial killer who inspired Psycho. But more centrally, there’s some of their sketch content. Anyone who witnesses the ‘chess game’ up close (and given that their venue has three rows, that should be everyone) is unlikely to shake that image out of their heads for a while.

Happily, unlike the Gimps, there is a far greater element of subtle trickery in this group’s writing. So, the almost inevitable ‘dead baby’ sequence has a neat surprise up its onesie; not that it will leave you feeling especially warm, but it’s still admirably clever. And when they let loose (such as with the ill-advised audition), you can easily forgive them as there will always be something a little less brash just around the corner.

But the main bone of contention for some will be the way they use the traditional sketch group motif of the whipping boy; or, in this case, whipping girl Kath, who is relentlessly bullied by both. Will it be enough that she ultimately has the last laugh or does the fact that she has to resort to an extreme deed to gain the upper hand make it a less notable victory? Debate will no doubt ensue through the month, just be thankful their horror doesn’t come with a dodgy mask attached.

Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 24 Aug (not 11), 10.45pm, £7-£9 (£6-£8).

Gein's Family Giftshop: Volume 1

  • 3 stars

Dark and irreverent fast-paced sketches.