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He Had Hairy Hands (Edinburgh Fringe)

A brilliantly executed comic tale of werewolves, murder and mystery

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Kill the Beast
© Richard Davenport

Kill the Beast are back on the loose. This young company, who have rapidly established one of the most recognisable performance styles around, are at the Fringe with a dark and brilliantly preposterous tale of werewolves, murder and intrigue, all set against the gloomy, faded backdrop of 1970s Britain.

The town of Hemlock-under-Lye is in crisis. The friendly neighbourhood werewolf, a tale told to keep children out of trouble, has suddenly started to kill, piling up an inconvenient body count just as the Mayor prepares to unveil his great historiorium. To solve the pest problem, the police force brings in Whitechapel: a gun-toting, scene-stealing detective with a propensity for the supernatural.

Kill the Beast race breathlessly through this grimy tale of murders and monsters, snapping from one scene to the next with astonishing pace and precision. Just four terrifyingly talented performers play a formidable array of characters, from back alley abortionists to police officers to the local bunting committee. The energy, like the butchery, never lets up for a moment.

But where the company really stand out is in the fine-tuned detail of their aesthetic. Each scene has the comic rigour of a perfectly crafted sketch, yet these delicious scraps of narrative also manage to stitch seamlessly into a full-length show. The tone, look and plot are all remarkably consistent, executed with a boldness and wit that more established companies would kill for. And I'll wager you're unlikely to see a better closing gag on the Fringe this year.

He Had Hairy Hands runs at Pleasance Cortyard until 25 August.