London, 1950, and the aftermath of one crazy night leads to a much bigger problem for the good souls trying to run a decent back alley abortion clinic; their patron said she was eight weeks gone but the enormous bulge she tries to conceal indicates that she lied, and among the cold cobbles and bin lids an emergency delivery is performed, the resultant monster abandoned, an innocent young dancer on his way to his theatrical debut traumatised by the discovery – “He had hairy hands!”
It is twenty four years later in Hemlock Under Lye that the killings begin. In early June, Constable Steven McTavish is found mauled on the moors; most unseemly for an officer of the law to be found with his entrails on the outside, more upsetting for the locals is that he is the very gentleman to whom they would report such a ghastly discovery. Pathologist Caroline Preen dismisses stories of “the infamous wolf of Hemlock,” preferring to place her faith in science, but word travels across the globe to bring disgraced investigator Eglantine Whitechapel to the case.
Whitechapel’s attitude is no nonsense, dismissing those who would counter her area investigative speciality: “If the supernatural doesn’t exist, how come it does?” Questioning the locals, she goes tree shooting with the evasive Mayor Magnus Castlechurch, but while her enquiries lead to dead ends the bodies are piling up in violation of the established dance between the lunar cycle and the inner beast. Is it truly a werewolf she hunts, or is someone – or something – playing the villagers and the police in a bigger game? “It’s a veritable bloodbath, and I’m more of a shower man.”
Kill the Beast stormed into Edinburgh last year with their grotesque adaptation of Tom Baker’s The Boy Who Kicked Pigs (now set to tour England and Wales through October and November) and their first self written production shows that not only have they learned what they need from the most macabre of former Time Lords but that like the best of his companions they are equally capable of solo adventures.
Performed by David Cumming, Natasha Hodgson, Oliver Jones and Zoe Roberts under the direction of Clem Garrity, the piece was fully devised by the ensemble, though credit is also due to those who have crafted the look and sound of the characters, costumes and virtual sets.
Confined to a minimal stage upon which they perform musical numbers relying on the perfect coordination of the team, the four strong cast are accompanied by rear projection backdrops which create the numerous locations, loving crafted as miniatures and edited into the bloody action to give scope beyond the exaggerated toothy grimaces from the same distressingly small gene pool as the League of Gentlemen.
Having been strictly black and white last year other than the splashes of blood which adorned the stage, the troupe have discovered the drab colour palette of the seventies, their curtained costumes now embracing shades of beige and mustard, further evidence of their radicalisation demonstrated by the presence of a brown leather jacket, but despite little in the way of props even a dog leash can become a versatile tool not only within a scene but as a segue to several more when grasped in these hairy and hugely talented hands.
He Had Hairy Hands has returned for the 2016 Fringe season and runs at the Pleasance until 29th August