Reviewed – 31st January 2019
“there is no faulting the sharp, incisive quality of the writing and the performances, there is a sense that they are all working a little too hard”
‘Kill the Beast’ have built up a reputation for combining their dark comedy with slick, slapstick physical theatre, creating spoofs that have targeted the likes of 80s sci-fi, detective stories and werewolf mysteries, among others. Now they turn their hand to the horror genre with “Director’s Cut” at the VAULT Festival. Farcical, fast-paced and frightening – even sometimes frighteningly funny – they transport us to the world of a 1970s wobbly film set. The more than slightly stressed director has just one more day to reshoot the final scene following the untimely death of his lead actress; whose ghost, needless to say, seeks to take her revenge from beyond the grave.
So, what can possibly go wrong? Even without the supernatural interference, there is melodrama enough to ensure the film never gets made. It takes real professionalism to portray amateurism well, and these five performers (Clem Garritty, Natasha Hodgson, Zoe Roberts, David Cumming and Oliver Jones) get it spot on with their exaggerated depictions of the prima donnas and the divas who have learned their trade from the ‘Art of Coarse Acting’. Even the props behave badly.
But despite the fast current of the action that sweep the gags along, it is dragged down slightly by the sheer haul of its influences. It’s a real mix of ‘The Goons’, ‘Inside No. 9’, ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’, ‘Noises Off’ and even a bit of ‘Acorn Antiques’. So much so that the horror element feels a bit shoe-horned in. Most of the humour lies in the human story, and while there is no faulting the sharp, incisive quality of the writing and the performances, there is a sense that they are all working a little too hard; as though over-eager to meet their target of punchlines.
“Director’s Cut”, though, is essentially an hour of very silly comedy, full of delightful in-jokes and recognisable characters. In jest there is truth. Even at its most ludicrous and over-the-top, much of the comedy derives from knowing how accurate the observations are. Strip these characters of their technicolour overkill and the anarchic humour would have more room to breathe.
Reviewed by Jonathan Evans
Photography courtesy Kill the Beast
Part of VAULT Festival 2019