Who are they? The Beta Males are; John Henry Falle, Jon Gracey, Guy Kelly and Richard Soames
Where did you see it? The Miller, in London Bridge
The Beta Males (Formerly The Beta Males Picnic) will be returning to Edinburgh in 2011 with The Train Job after the success of their 2010 show The Bunker. I didn't see The Bunker, unfortunately so I cannot compare this show to that but The Train Job felt equally as claustrophobic as a bunker as the show is set, as the title would suggest, on a train going from London (I think...) to Edinburgh.
|L-R Guy Kelly, Richard Soames, John-Henry Falle and Jon Gracey|
I was keen to see this show as I had heard and seen good things from the Beta Males, with their matching ties and waistcoat (a snazzy purple and grey combination at the Miller, fashion fans) their style reminds me very much of what it would have been like to see The League of Gentlemen's early shows. TLoG wore black tie in their live shows and continued it for the first half of their national tour. The train is, I suppose, their Royston Vasey (or Spent, "it was better on the radio" fans) with the sketches taking place during this journey across the train carriages.
I don't want to spoil it too much so I will keep it basic. We (the audience) are passengers on the Olympus with its brash American CEO reassuring this that the train cannot possibly sink, we then join an array of characters including the tea boy (or is it tea lady?), the safety inspector, trainspotters, a gorilla and Stephen Byers MP, amongst others.
This is a preview and that was obvious; lines were forgotten and giggles were had but personally I quite like this in a show because you can pick up any tensions between the performers and it is obvious they take any mistakes in their stride and any teasing from their fellow Beta Male with the jest that is intended. My only concern is that it might not stand out against other sketch shows that don't have such a rigid connection that the Beta Males have with the train. The train and live setting means that it is hard to adjust when a sketch takes part outside of the train, which happens rarely in this show.
I hate reviews that concentrate on particular performers so I won't do that. All four put in strong, memorable performances during the hour whether that be Falle's Brief Encounter-esque female character or his gorilla, Gracey's Stephen Byers, Kelly's orgasmic safety inspector and Soames' tea boy (or is it lady?)
If in Edinburgh or in London before and after Edinburgh do catch this show; it is a lot of fun.