Penny Dreadfuls

The Penny Dreadfuls are riding high at the moment as one of the Fringe’s most acclaimed sketch troupes, and a revved-up audience whooped and cheered as the trio cartwheeled onto the stage and opened the show with some rather crap acrobatics. But despite the performers’ charm and energy, the show failed to live up to my expectations and the hype surrounding them. There were some genuine laugh-out-loud moments – personal highlights were the ‘rhetorical questions’ round in a quiz show spoof, and a deliciously histrionic take on emo teenage vampires – but other material was uneven, and occasionally derivative. A sketch about a Ben Stiller-esque racecar driver was unnecessarily spun out over three parts, while another featured a wrestler who bore more than a passing resemblance to Nacho Libre. The performers too frequently fell back on silly walks and funny voices, and while physical comedy is a strong point for all three, pratfalls and dropped trousers can only get you so far. The production was slick and the material was reasonably entertaining, but given the performers’ obvious ability and the considerable buzz they’ve created, I think they could do better.

The Blurb

The Penny Dreadfuls are doing a brand new sketch comedy show this year. Do come. 'Simply unmissable' ***** (ThreeWeeks). 'Pythonic, Blackaddery excellence' ***** (List). 'Consistently and constantly had the audience in hysterics' ***** (Edinburgh Evening News).