Thu 18th – Sat 20th October 2012


Lauren Hutchinson

at 03:28 on 19th Oct 2012



Rosa Robson and Matilda Wnek are no strangers to the world of comedy. With Footlights success under their belts previously with the likes of Treasure Island and Rookie, it came as no surprise when they unveiled plans to hit the Edinburgh Fringe 2012 with ‘Beard’. In an hour jam packed full of completely varied but consistently engaging original sketches, the two women play over one hundred and fifty parts between them. Absurd? Potentially.

Brilliant? Undeniably.

It took me a while to warm up to the unrelenting pace and the take-no-prisoners ambition of the sketch material, but the constant satisfied giggling of the enthusiastic audience told me that this double act were only just scratching the surface of something really quite special. So I allowed myself to be completely taken in by the charming and endearing ease with which the two commanded their stage. And truth be told, I didn't write a single review note during the performance because I was too busy being totally enthralled by their perfect characterisations (however brief) and slick yet still satisfyingly unpredictable delivery. These girls are funny. They manipulated their bodies, faces and voices flawlessly to portray a plethora of characters to unimaginable comedic effect. Even when a sketch started that didn't immediately appeal to me, I was making involuntary noises of utter hilarity before it’s end. The fast paced scene changes, helped along by the fantastic Stephen Bermingham’s many trills, jingles and introductions, really kept the audience engrossed, never allowing for complacency or, god forbid, boredom. Boredom was a word that completely disappeared from my vocabulary for the approximate running time of 62 minutes.

As rehearsed as I was aware the show must have been after a run at the Fringe, in some sketches, the existence of new or developed material was evident. The thrill of performing each sketch still seemed novel and exciting to the duo and the constant desire to develop and improve which they recently mentioned in Tom Powell’s recent Varsity article ‘The growth of a Beard’, was highly evident and increased my respect for Robson and Wnek, not only in terms of raw talent but also as artists, as serious comics and writers. Modifying sketches in response to feedback is a fantastic ability and I felt as if the show must have come a long way from when it received less favourable reviews in the summer. For this, for being so innovative and eager, the girls are due huge amounts of credit. It is this fresh faced and unapologetic approach that gives Beard the feel of being the comedy of the future.

So yes, sometimes the lights came up a little too early, and yes, maybe one of them corpsed (understandably, along with everyone else in the room) after an unfortunate slur of worlds inadvertently concluded in the delivery of a four letter expletive beginning with c...but nobody cared. If anything, it made every single person in that auditorium MORE enamoured with the duo. None of the small isolated incidents of impracticality distracted from the fact that I wanted to be sat, on Christmas Day in ten years, watching Beard on a prime-time (post-watershed) French and Saunders-esque slot. I felt witness to something extremely special tonight, which though in its infancy, can only have an extensive and promising future ahead. Female comedy is back with a bang, and this time, it’s got a Beard.


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