Kill the Beast have been absolutely smashing it with their productions. They’ve become renowned for their highly physical, energetic styles of performance, and acclaimed for their use of multimedia. Their latest show, Don’t Wake The Damp, which explores avenues other than werewolves and kicking pigs, is no exception. With high anticipation, I headed into the Pleasance Dome to see the company’s latest offering at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Don’t Wake The Damp brings us into the bleak existence of old lady June (Natasha Hodgson), who lives in a sky-scraping tower block of flats, and reminisces the days she used to perform in an 80s TV show set in space. But one day, a nerdy little man from the council named Terry (David Cumming) comes to tell her that her residence is in danger of being taken over by the wretched Damp. June refuses to vacate, and teams up with her eccentric neighbours to battle the beast that’s rising up in the block.
If you’re a fan of Kill the Beast’s other shows, you’ll absolutely love this show. It contains all of their trademarks: performances that ooze character and charisma, with an added dash of gleefully exaggerated physicalities. These trademarks are buttressed by a sense of relentless energy to steer us through the narrative, and we’re strapped in for a fast-paced ride through a beautifully stylised play-world that engrosses you.
On the contrary, if you’ve not seen one of the company’s shows before, you might find this production a little bit overwhelming and, at times, a bit too similar. While the performances are very well-considered and a joy to watch, they often collide to provide a sense of monotony, which disengages the audience. This leads to a loss of laughter at vital moments, and it’s a real shame since Don’t Wake The Damp has such a unique and original story.
Making up for the production’s slight tendency to overwhelm is the slick and stylish scenography, which is one of the most well-considered I’ve seen in a production for quite some time. Kill The Beast really do nail it when it comes to building a harmonious relationship between the production aspects; there’s a thumping, pulsating soundtrack that contributes to the atmosphere. The lighting design beautifully illuminates the piece, and melds together a range of emotional landscapes that give the performers plenty of room to navigate throughout.
While I don’t think Kill the Beast have properly nailed it with this show, it’s certainly pretty good. This is a company that has a firm grasp on theatrical storytelling methods, and they go about it in a powerfully playful way. Don’t Wake The Damp is a well-constructed, stylish piece of theatre that’s well worth seeing.
Don’t Wake The Damp is playing at the Pleasance Dome until 29 August. For more information and tickets, see The Pleasance website.