The various members of sketch quartet The Beta Males, having scattered into the wind like a dandelion clock made of jokes, appear in no less than seven Fringe productions this year. This one features the talents of Adam Blampied (aka the one with Dave Grohl teeth) and Lydia King (aka not a Beta Male), both of whom also have their own solo shows. For ‘Kings’, they specialise in quick-fire sketches of the bickering friends variety.
It’s a speedy, high-energy set that rarely dips below a certain quality threshold. Pastiches of actors’ and comedians’ behaviour will land well (or hard) with the performing arts crowd; an assisted suicide bit and a rival twins sketch toy with darker material. Not every sketch is a winner – an overlong routine about cowboys is probably more fun for Blampied and King than it is for the audience – but there's also the odd flash of genius to balance things out, including a supremely creepy scene about royal babies that’s a restful interlude amid all the velocity.
The lateness of the hour (and the fact both comics have to sprint to this show from their solo efforts) results in a giddy atmosphere that infects the audience as well as the performers. Tonight, an aborted Butlins sketch that relies on the audience unsuccessfully not responding to crowd prompts results in a hilarious hissy fit from Blampied, who later provides an expert lesson in shutting down hecklers by agreeing with them: when asked, ‘what the fuck is going on here?’ he responds, ‘what the fuck is going on here!?’ Lively, sharp and with just the right amount of sass – ‘Kings’ rule.