In 1950s London, on the cobbled streets outside the Stage Door of the best West End show in town, an illicit abortion goes wrong and a baby-shaped bundle of fur is thrown into a dustbin. Twenty four years later in the quiet village of Hemlock -Under-Lye there’s a beast on the loose and it’s beginning to worry the bunting committee who are busy preparing the village for the grand opening of the Historiorium. The builders call it “the furry ninja of the moors” but it’s better known as the werewolf and it’s started to pick off the Hemlockians one by one.
This is the peculiar world of Kill The Beast’s He Had Hairy Hands, a comedy werewolf murder mystery that has found a new home at London’s New Diorama Theatre following its howling success in Edinburgh. Just four actors create the strange society of sleepy Hemlock-Under-Lye where the first of the show’s many mauled bodies are discovered by two barely closeted lesbian dogwalkers. We’re introduced to a whole host of oddballs, all led by an eccentric mayor whose closest friend and only relative is a pigeon named Marco.
When it’s clear the incompetent local force can’t handle mysterious case, the formidable supernatural Detective Whitechapel steps in, and Zoe Rodgers steals every single scene she’s in with her snappy one-liners and faultless comic delivery. The unbelievably talented cast race through scenes, unveiling plot-twist after shocking plot-twist with a lot of innovation and imagination but very few props or costume changes and barely enough time to breath. The audience is soon crying with laughter.
He Had Hairy Hands is a little like the feisty female lead, flared trousers and the many shades of Seventies brown from ‘Anchorman’ have descended upon the set of ‘Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit’. Throw in a dash of the BBC’s dark psychological mystery thriller ‘Psychoville’, some character names straight out of Dickens and a splash of zombie make-up and you just about get the flavour of He Had Hairy Hands. It’s a mash up of the horror films we know and love and those we love to hate, from Hammer to Scream, all transported to a quaint northern town. The result is a gloriously dark show riddled with wit and real theatrical cleverness, all topped off with beautiful animation and moulding costumes. He Had Hairy Hands is one of the funniest shows I’ve seen in a long time – here’s hoping their macabre masterpiece gets extended until at least Halloween!