Kids with Beards: The Curse of the Secret Ham

Kids With Beards is a six person-strong sketch comedy group from Brighton. Of the six performers two are women, so they don’t, in fact, all have beards. However, this revelation didn’t hamper my enjoyment of their Edinburgh Fringe preview. It would be impossible to distil a plot or overarching message from The Curse of the Secret Ham, but to provide an insight of what to expect, the show is a cocktail of wrestling, blood, sexy pizza, God, clocks and ‘kickass recorder solos’.

The humour is smart and the group has clearly gone to some lengths to ensure that the material is both original and engaging.

Kids With Beards have made a home with offbeat observational comedy. They are at their very best when they highlight the banality of everyday life and push mundane situations in extreme, unexpected directions. This is at the heart of their cleverest sketches: women arguing about who should pay the bill, a person at the opticians, or someone suffering from hayfever at work. These scenarios become springboards for surprising and absurd exchanges. The obvious laugh is consistently bypassed for an imaginative alternative. One cannot guess where a sketch will end in relation to its beginning, nor does one know where the next gag is coming from.

The humour is smart and the group has clearly gone to some lengths to ensure that the material is both original and engaging. A couple of sketches are extremely short (less than twenty seconds), while others are longer and more developed. They are all different: my favourite moments made use of the anti-joke, others were more pun-oriented while several employed excellent physical comedy. It would be remiss not to mention Cara Dawson’s tour-de-force dance performance which was side-splittingly funny. Dawson is a performer with tremendous energy who is able to take on distinct, convincing comedic roles – memorably John Torode of Masterchef fame – with confidence.

At times, however, the show slightly lacked finesse. The transitions between scenes were cumbersome, some lines were thrown away and it felt a little scrappy. This style was surprisingly well-suited to the casual, friendly atmosphere of The Hen and Chickens Theatre, but perhaps Kids With Beards will have to be a little slicker during an Edinburgh run. Over the course of the month, I am sure that The Curse of the Secret Ham will be refined and amended to suit a Fringe crowd – the kids themselves are smart and inventive enough to guarantee this. I would highly recommend catching them while they are up there: theirs is a wacky, random and irreverent show that will not fail to surprise and amuse.

Reviews by Cal Kenny

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The Blurb

We’re Kids with Beards. We’re from Brighton. Please join us for an hour of surreal and depraved sketches. There’s something in there for everyone…like ham, funerals, time travel, dancing, blood and sexy pizza.

“The sketches vary from the sort of awkward humour you would expect from Mitchell and Webb, to the semi-genius wordplay of Fry and Laurie” ***** – The Tab

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