by Joanna Orland

BEASTS are a classic sketch trio who use slapstick, wit and old-fashioned fun to present their show Solo to the Edinburgh Fringe audience. BEASTS are far from unique, but somehow they stand out amongst sketch troupes who saturate the fringe. They are comprised of 3 sketch troupe stereotypes – The serious one who seems to be in charge in the form of Owen Roberts, the mischievous one who is up to no good in the form of James McNicholas, and the lovable bumbling idiot in the form of Ciarán Dowd who plays dumb to the height of his intelligence.

The premise of Solo is that the three members of BEASTS have had enough of working together and want to pursue their solo careers. They come to this conclusion while on stage during their Edinburgh Fringe show and realize that they now have an hour to fill, and using their solo material is the best way to do so. They each then do bits from their solo shows, with hilarious results.

If this sounds a bit reminiscent of Pappy’s Last Show Ever, well, perhaps it’s because Pappy’s Tom Parry is the director of Solo. Luckily, BEASTS are unique enough to take inspiration from Pappy’s without being carbon copies.

Solo starts with mischievous James’ solo dreams of becoming a magician. As he’s always up to no good, his tricks are rather sinister and of course have over-the-top comedic results. Next up is serious Owen who has written a biographical play on the life of Nelson Mandela, only to be hilariously ruined by poor dumb loveable Ciarán. Finally it’s Ciarán’s turn and well, you’ll never guess what his solo dream is – let’s just say, it’s not for under 18’s. In fact, it all got a bit intense at the show I attended as Ciarán’s number 1 fan was in the audience, to everyone’s dismay. The creepy drunk old man in the front row was not at all too shy to declare his love for Ciarán, and somehow the guys handled it so well, it actually enhanced the show rather than detracted.

BEASTS are overall a lot of fun! While not groundbreaking material, their individual performances are each strong and complimentary, leading to the obvious conclusion that BEASTS are much better together than solo.


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