Review: He Had Hairy Hands by Kill The Beast

He Had Hairy Hands is billed as ‘a brand new tale of supernatural slaughter’ and the show is a manic whirlwind of fast-paced physical comedy, hilarious one-liners and stunning animations. It takes as its setting the sleepy village of Hemlock-Under-Lye, whose legend of a benign werewolf suddenly takes a turn for the macabre when the bodies of well-loved residents are found, disembowelled and mutilated, resulting in a storm of hommages to Victorian melodrama, Hammer horror and classic detective films, raining down upon the audience at a furious pace.

The show is expertly performed by David Cumming, Natasha Hodgson, Oliver Jones and Zoe Roberts and directed by Clem Garrity in a tiny space in front of a screen onto which are projected animations, by Alex Purcell, which form the perfect backdrop. From a spooky morgue with flickering lighting, to the burning stately home, flames licking at the bannisters, they are wonderfully evocative without ever being intrusive. Despite the lack of stage space, the physical comedy is stunningly precise and matched only by the impeccable script, in which every word, every line and every reference is scrupulously chosen and crammed to overflowing with satire and jokes.

The piece is heavily stylised, the performers in greasepaint masks, switching rapidly and seamlessly between characters, and even gender, to populate the stage with a cast of hundreds – backroom abortionists, supernatural detectives, disowned heirs, village gossips, smalltown policemen, sexually-repressed scientists and Spanish alcoholics, to name but a few. The songs, by Ben Osborn are tongue-twistingly brilliant; the costumes, designed by Rachel Schofield Owen and Nina Scott, perfectly outlandish and grungy; and the lighting, by Elliot Griggs, moody, evocative and expertly realised.

He Had Hairy Hands is a near-perfect, five-star show and my only grumble is that it is so packed full of comedy, operating on several different levels simultaneously, that you really need to see it more than once, just to appreciate every joke, every reference and every hilarious moment. But if that means that Kill the Beast sell more tickets, then good on them! There aren’t many shows I would want to see again, but this is definitely one of them.

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