In a market saturated by sketch comedy, The Beta Males understand that something more is needed to entice the audience. Instead of a series of unrelated humour nuggets, these four performers choose a central theme each year and then create sketches that spider diagram out from the centre. This year the subject is the Space Race and follows the attempt to make the first footprint on the moon British; we are transported to the quaint country village of Lower Birchly in 1969, which happens also to be the location of Britain’s top-secret space programme run by the utterly barmy Professor Brian Brilliance.
The scripting is superb and moves faster than a Saturn rocket on take off. The pace leads to a run of excellent bathetic jokes that could travel under the radar if it wasn’t for the delivery of the boys. All four are superb comic actors, however Guy Kelly deserves particular mention for his gangly physical comedy and excellent character acting: playing both an ape and an alien and making both hilarious is no earthly feat. The videos that divide scenes are also good, if not stratospheric - paralleling quiet British country life with the hyper technology of a space programme. This is also true of the sparse audience interaction, which is well used if a little contrived.
Unfortunately, not every sketch is a winner; a secret agent overly fond of commitment and one simply looking at the idiosyncrasies of the 60’s stand out as overly long and not gelling with the central plot. However, this is more than made up for by the ingenious ten minute montage at the end of the show which strings together each of the sketches and characters into one fast paced and absolutely hilarious continuity. The Space Race certainly breaches the atmosphere and gets into orbit, but is not quite good enough to make that moon landing. It’s no giant leap but it gets the job done.