The Story Beast

★★★★
comedy review | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 08 Aug 2015

John Henry Falle is best known as 'the funny one' from reliable Fringe stalwarts the Beta Males, and to say this is no slight on his colleagues. Each plays his own part in the group's dynamic, but it's Falle's incorrigible theatricality that leaves the most lasting impression. He's their wild card, a constant threat to the carefully controlled artifice of each sketch.

 

It's interesting, then, to watch how his unpredictable, disruptive qualities translate into this solo outing. Here is a literate, tightly constructed hour that offers few opportunities for improvised grandstanding. The star's every movement and expression is carefully honed, to the point where his blustering discipline has a suffocating effect on the audience.

 

A sweating, constipated hulk whose booming tenor lies somewhere between that of Brian Blessed and Orson Welles, few other comics would dare open their shows with intense, borderline nonsensical recitations of Beowulf, much less get away with it. To see Falle physically grapple with himself as he channels Ray Winstone's cockney persona is a thing of wonder.

 

What follows isn't always quite so dense or hard-going. 'The Beast' delivers a hack standup set rife with observations only a mystic versed in classical literature could relate to, before enacting a murderous scenario among the toys that lie scattered across the stage. Some set pieces are more memorable than others, but the joy here is watching Falle bring a bizarre, fully formed character to life.