Viviene Stone, adored by the masses but not so much by her co-stars, Hollywood starlet of such classic hits Darling Daisy Do and That Bad Cat, dazzling, divine, demanding and most definitely deceased following an accident during the shooting of her latest feature, Rosemary’s Toddler. With only a few scenes left unfinished, an uncanny body double is located, Veronica Corbet, capturing the look but sadly not possessed of the talent, which will call for some clever editing from Wallis B Matravers when it comes time for the director’s cut.
Kill the Beast are back at the Edinburgh Fringe for a brief run of only just over a week, far shorter than their previous shows The Boy Who Kicked Pigs, He Had Hairy Hands and Don’t Wake the Damp, but that only means that the insanity which they have squeezed into their hour in the spotlight is even more concentrated, much like the task facing Matravers as he finds his schedule cut in favour of a competing Egyptian epic on the next soundstage.
With two large television monitors bookending the film set of a townhouse drawing room, these extend the action further into the labyrinth of the studio, allowing the numerous costume changes to proceed smoothly while the story progresses on stage as well as relaying the performances as captured by Matravers’ camera.
A further development for the company who have always embraced technology in their bizarre creations, the discontinuity between what is on stage and what is shown on screen enhances the atmosphere of the show, combining with the stagecraft of quick changes and misdirection in a story of possession, deception and the unfinished business from beyond the grave of a leading lady who will not be denied her grand finale.
Unlike their previous relatively linear shows, the structure of Director’s Cut is also a departure, with flashbacks mixed in with rehearsals, behind the scenes shenanigans and bad behaviour backstage as supporting actors Joanna Shoebag and Mick Salad try to conceal their affair while simultaneously wrangling Salad’s pet chimpanzee Olivier and Judy Goose misses her cue for Satan’s demonic parade.
With piercing glares, flared nostrils, gargantuan lizard hands, the occasional showtune and a lot of wigging, David Cumming, Natasha Hodgson, Oliver Jones and Zoe Roberts have created one of the most technically and artistically ambitious shows of the season which is unmistakably in keeping with their grotesque brand values, Kill the Beast demonstrating once again that low-budget Fringe theatre need not be synonymous with amateur.