Crybabies: Bagbeard | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Crybabies: Bagbeard

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Bearing an unfashionable standard for white boys doing sketch comedy, the Crybabies earned themselves a best newcomer nomination at the last Fringe with Danger Brigade, a hectic and brilliant parody of Second World War adventure narratives. 

Their new show, Bagbeard, takes James Gault, Michael Clarke and Ed Jones back to similar territory – and is just as impressive. They take the idea of a man with a bag on his face and spin it into time-travelling monster movie gold.

We open in a spooky forest with two figures in surprisingly convincing cardboard hazmat suits, indecipherable over their radio but helpfully subtitled, one of them trying to convince the other that he’s not secretly a burger. It’s a tremendous Spielbergian sci-fi opening sequence culminating in the first peek of Bagbeard, the alien lifeform who provides the engine for the plot, played by a scantily-clad Gault with bin bag pants and a carrier bag on his chin.

Bagbeard, the character, is emblematic of production values which are low in a traditional sense. But the show has had so much care and attention lavished on it that it feels luxurious to receive, like the trio are really spoiling us. It’s absurdly rich with one-liners, fantastical music sequences, bizarre one-scene characters, theatrical conceits and narrative twists. 

While they’re not trying to deconstruct sketch tropes in the way an act like Sheeps might aim for, the Crybabies demonstrate understanding of form by having the show oscillate in and out of sketch and parody. Having their secret agent fall in love with their alien (in an incredibly silly musical number) is not the standard move, but by the time the show concludes there’s a genuine silver screen romance to this pairing that does justice to the B-movies that Bagbeard parodies. 

In that respect, it’s doing something a little different from a pure spoof like Airplane!, as it maintains its own stakes in the face of derailment. 

Ultimately, though, this is not about experimentation but dense delight. It’s precision-tooled silliness: every line has a joke, and every joke lands. It’s simply top-tier, one of the funniest, most creative and brilliantly executed shows at this year’s festival.

Crybabies: Bagbeard is on at Pleasance Dome at 5.50pm

Review date: 17 Aug 2022
Reviewed by: Tim Harding
Reviewed at: Pleasance Dome

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