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Edinburgh Fringe 2010

Gutted. A Revenger’s Tragedy

Assembly & Marshall Cordell by Arrangement With White And Ward

Genre: Musical Theatre

Venue: Assembly @ George Street


Low Down

A young bride marries the killer of her parents and plots to kill the rest of his surviving family in an act of bloody revenge. A darkly comic and naughtily crude musical with a cast of mostly comedians.


Gutted. A Revenger’s Tragedy

Danielle Ward and Martin White have followed on from their 2007 cult hit ‘Psister Psycho’, with this fabulously Gothic murder comedy musical. With a cast chiefly comprising of respected comics, this is the kooky, dark ensemble piece that is rapidly being added to the must-see list of this year’s Fringe.

The tale is a simple one of blood-sworn revenge. Sorrow is marrying the man who killed her parents some 15 years previously, out to seek revenge by slaughtering each of his living relatives in supposed ‘accidents’.

The costumes are a delight in dark bold shapes, and would not seem out of place in any of Tim Burton’s cinematic canon. The set is a simple but versatile construct of curtains and three doors, allowing a few props and well-chosen words to complete the setting of each scene. Combine that with some beautifully striking lighting and the location and tone were recognisable with each change instantly. It’s another world of delightful dark humour, bad taste and crudity combined with surprisingly strong voices from all the cast and choreographed funky dancing. 

As our murderous mistress Sorrow, attired as Betty Boop if she’d been a blonde bride, relative newcomer Helen George holds the stage and belts out her heart, switching from conflicted to determined in the blink of an eye. She’s a surprisingly sympathetic killer, and with the entire Bewley family such loathsome characters our topsy-turvy morality has her quest becoming practically noble. Especially when egged on by the scene-stealing Penny Dreadful trio, playing a never-named presence transpiring to be something akin to a grotesque anti-conscience. Their own award-winning sketch comedy shows have sharpened their physical theatre and unity so well that as creepy baritones of ill will they excel.

Versatility is the word for Colin Hoult (of Colin And Fergus), who in true Alec Guinness style plays the entire Bewley family, from lecherous uncle right through to snobbish aunt. Hunched and contorted, callous and critical, Hoult is the very essence of a villain about to get their comeuppance. His arrogance as the groom is palpable as he declares his love for Sorrow, unaware of her plans or true identity. Hoult’s lean physique is used to great effect, his attire similar to that of Dick Dastardly.

The rest of the cast are equally fun, unique and twisted. The staff, played by Sara Pascoe, Lizzie Roper and Margaret Cabourn-Smith, has its own in-fighting and unrequited love subplot. John the gardener, played by rap comic Doc Brown, provides a pure love and relatively clean conscience for Sorrow. Their affection is a touching time in an otherwise engagingly grotesque world, halting the all out sink into depravity for a moment and at the same time allowing the dark material some contrast against which to be seen more clearly.

This also marked the Edinburgh Fringe debut of Jimbob from 90s band Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine as a deliciously louche lounge singer at the wedding.

The only thing that really marred the show was the variable sound levels, which lost punchlines and lyrics frustratingly frequently. It is fortunate as an audience member that musicals have a habit of repeating lines and plot details in lyrics, allowing us to catch up if the backing vocals are turned up too loud or a spoken word too soft.

I thoroughly enjoyed the show, romping through bad taste and finding rhymes to words mostly found written on bathroom walls. It was fun, articulate (when amplified clearly) and strictly for grown ups with a sense of childishness about them. I hope this isn’t the only run we will see of this show.