Edinburgh Review: He Had Hairy Hands, Pleasance Courtyard

hairy handsThe scene is set in 1950s London. A backstreet abortion that turns into a birth. But it wasn’t a baby that was born that night…

Flash forward to 1974. Everyone’s wearing flares and turtlenecks in mustard yellow and burgundy. Some unusually gruesome murders have been going down in the dark and dingy town of Hemlock-under-Lye, and the townsfolk are getting edgy.

In this delightful macabre comedy, He Had Hairy Hands, disgraced police detective-turned-aerobics coach Eglantine Whitechapel must catch the mysterious killer in order to save the town and restore her reputation. Meanwhile, a corrupt mayor does nothing to help proceedings along and, unbeknownst to them, a doomed romance blossoms between Sergeant Andy and chemist Caroline.

Kill the Beast goes the extra mile in this fast-paced comedy thriller. Everything down to the last detail is thoroughly well thought out – from the costumes to the makeup to the props, all flecked with grime and mould to create the sinister netherworld of a town under siege by a crazed killer. The cast’s ability to change character before you can say ‘scene change!’ is admirable to say the least – blink and you’ll miss something.

Wonderfully hyperbolic, its comedy is swift, erratic, and cartoonish, and so fast it almost runs away with you. The cast performs with flair and no one misses a beat. It’s eccentric, grotesque and tacky in all the right places, with musical interludes from the Hemlock-under-Lye bunting society to cheesy one-liners from gun-wielding feminist heroine Whitechapel like “They call me Miss, because I never do!” But He Had Hairy Hands’s off-kilter humour cleverly accommodates this ironic tawdriness and uses it to its advantage. It never ceases to be funny.

An innovative execution of an already clever script, He Had Hairy Hands is bold, rigorous and truly unmissable.

He Had Hairy Hands plays at Pleasance Courtyard until 25 August 2014 as part of the Edinburgh Fringe. For more information and tickets, visit the EdFringe website.