Beak Speaks (4 stars)

This article is from 2017

Beak Speaks

credit: James Greaves

Brilliantly written and totally believable trip into the mind of a nightmare thesp

Step into the world of Gillian Beak. This Fringe veteran and old school 'ac-TOR' comes among us to impart her wisdom in this theatre masterclass. She leads us through her life and craft, with some gentle audience participation in a number of performance exercises as we connect with our chakras and unleash our inner thespian (plus there's a guest appearance from a virtual Miles Jupp).

Sarah Thom, the woman behind the Beak, really does work as a theatre director, writer and performer, is a regular on Radio 4, has worked with Stewart Lee and even popped up in grim costume drama Taboo. Thom knows the secret to good character comedy is to never overstep the mark and while Beak is blinkered, pompous and ridiculous, she is ultimately sympathetic.

There are some wonderful touches and details that round out the character, while real emotion reverberates in a recurring story about her mother, and the desperation she shows in complete devotion to her art makes Beak feel true. The irony is that by playing a bad actor Thom proves she is actually a fantastic one, thanks to this brilliantly written, wholly believable, and very funny tragi-comic creation.

Underbelly Cowgate, until 27 Aug (not 14, 21), 4pm, £9.50–£10.50 (£8.50–£9.50).

Beak Speaks

  • 4 stars

Jimmy Jewell Ltd An audience with the self-professed queen of the Fringe. As 28 years of working on, in, under and around the British Fringe theatre circuit draws to an untimely end, Gillian Beak bares all in public to share a lifetime of theatrical windfalls with whoever might care to munch on them. 'If I was 10 years…