The show works best when it leans fully into its own absurdity. Throughout the show, whenever a unicorn mentions the rain, the stage is bathed in a sensual blue light and the unicorns gyrate, yelling ‘Shit yeah’. We never get any context for this. Why do unicorns love rain? But it doesn’t matter. This is a show where surprise, weirdness, and roller coaster like pace are more important.
Another stand out is a fight scene between Vaughn , and Noah (Tom Kerama) who is trying to get two unicorns for his ark. Noah fights with two long swords, screaming obscenities, while Vaughn prances just out of his reach. The scene is utterly bizarre and totally hilarious.
The Utterly Last Unicorn has fun characters, great costumes and a lot of heart. However, as a whole, the piece feels a bit disjoined. The first half focuses on the unicorns as property managers, offering critiques of the New Zealand rental market, while the second half is about Noah’s ark. I don’t really understand the relationship between them. It feels like two good ideas muddled together in a way that pulls focus from both. Possibly if The Utterly Last Unicorn was a full length show there would have been more time to flesh out the relationship between these two story lines.
Between scenes the show is punctuated with songs about mythical creatures performed by Joe Raea and Eddie Kerr. These ease the transitions and keep the energy high. Raea and Kerr are both charismatic and entertaining performers.
A NESScesary Detective is a more cohesive piece, presenting us with an intriguing murder mystery.
The reveal of Detective Ness (Katie Boyle) in her loch ness monster costume is the highlight of the show. Boyle, Luke Scott, and Ryan Cundy deserve a round of applause for constructing such an absurd and delightful set piece. The creative way the costume is used to emulate Detective Ness swimming through the loch is straight up hilarious.
Boyle is fantastic as Detective Ness. She can’t move in her costume so can only use facial expressions and a thick Scottish accent to build the character. Despite this she brings a serious gravitas to the role which makes you believe she is a well respected detective.
I do think that A NESScesary Detective could do with an edit. Some of the scenes, particularly near the end seem like a vehicle for a joke or one liner, without really driving the narrative forward. These scenes slow down the pace and give the audience unwanted time to breathe. At one point Detective Ness reveals the murderer, then a hostage wrestles his way out of his restraints to reaccounce the murderer and the way he solved the crime, by which time the audience has already moved on, hungry for more action.
Fab Beasts aims to provide social commentary by presenting global issues distanced through fantasy so we can see them in a fresh light. This works effectively throughout the show. My favourite example was Detective Ness talking about her issues getting promotions and being taken seriously at work. Detective Ness focuses on the glass ceiling created by her being female, rather than acknowledging the monster in the room. It highlights the absurdity of sexism in the workplace while keeping us laughing.
Fab Beasts is a really fun show. You can tell that the cast and crew had a good time putting this together and are having fun onstage. Their enthusiasm is infectious and keeps the audience in high spirits. I’m excited to see more from Horse With No Name productions, and I think with an edit Fab Beasts could be truly outstanding.
Fab Beasts is playing at the Gryphon from March 11th-16th. Book your tickets here.