Crybabies: Danger Brigade | Edinburgh Fringe review by Julia Chamberlain
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Crybabies: Danger Brigade

Edinburgh Fringe review by Julia Chamberlain

Crybabies have created a fast-paced, multi-character sketch show that is firmly rooted in a tradition of British satire and Boys’ Own derring-do comic book, with an absurd streak a mile wide.  

Sweltering through layers of costume from Nazi leather coats down to John Major-style half-perished underpants, their energy never falters. But they successfully vary the pace from breakneck flash changes to a more forgiving storytelling pace. Just as well, as it would be as exhausting for the audience if they didn’t insert the less frantic, tongue-in-cheek tributes to The Eagle or Biggles styles.

Physically they are distinctive. Gangly James Gault well understands that physical comedy resides in the joints, his knees and shoulders sag, his moustache droops pitifully and even his hair seems to go limp with pathos as a man whose closest relationship is with a mop. Then he transforms into the grindingly irritating leading man who lives by the maxim of always be making an entrance as he embodies various evil masterminds (Gammon Daggerboot? Is that right?) an evil Nazi rat king wannabe and various brothers/sons/downtrodden flunkeys.  

Michael Clarke is the Army captain, tedious author, footballing dad, working-class pervert and a rattling good Irish priest. He anchors the show, the fulcrum between lanky Gault and the powerhouse that is Ed Jones.  His firecracker performance has a young Charlie Chaplin’s supple expressiveness and manically camp range of characters to draw on to populate the sketches with archetypes, stereotypes and some out-there originality. 

 Cast as ‘handsome Chester’, among about 50 other roles, he really does command the stage with his comic acting and is the embodiment of ridiculously handsome, which he uses to tremendous, ludicrous effect, the emphasis firmly on ‘ridiculously’.

There are so many storylines intertwining and colliding that this is head-and-shoulders above many sketch shows, full of callbacks, pantomime drama and surprising moments of poignancy. 

Surrender to the storylines, this is no more ridiculous than most opera, and a good deal more entertaining and a splendid example of ensemble work from a talented cast.  

They’ve absorbed a range of styles, not least ‘coarse acting’  which kept the audience tickled to death for an hour. 

Review date: 2 Aug 2019
Reviewed by: Julia Chamberlain
Reviewed at: Boteco do Brasil

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