In themselves the Beasts’ sketch personas are fairly standard; the nutcase, the buffoon and the straight man. What sets the trio apart is the level of manic energy that they throw into these roles. Stick a crocodile clip on either side of Pleasance Beside during their show and you could power the rest of the Courtyard for a week. This hi-octane action may owe a little to the involvement of ex-Pappy’s madman Tom Parry as director, but the bulk of the credit has to go to the three core members and their dedication to getting laughs. Where else can you see a man eat half a tub of protein shake while another gaffer-tapes a budgie into a box, ready to set it on fire?
All three play these roles superbly, especially James who has perfectly developed the subtle shift from wacky madman to genuinely dangerous nutcase.
The conceit of Solo – three troupe members all attempting to perform their own solo shows simultaneously – is an excellent one as it gives Beasts the opportunity to satirise most of the genres that can be found around the Fringe. Owen is the intellectual – the ‘serious’ actor desperate to tell the story of his hero, Nelson Mandela. James is the borderline psychopath with a flair for death-defying illusion (though not so much ‘defying’ or ‘illusion’). And Kieron? Kieron just wants to take his clothes off. All three play these roles superbly, especially James who has perfectly developed the subtle shift from wacky madman to genuinely dangerous nutcase.
As the three rampage their way haphazardly towards the climax of the show, there are a few pratfalls: the odd, overlong ‘Stuart’ sketch and the heavy reliance on showing Kieron’s belly for laughs - but the end result is still a riotous hour-long comedic crash course.