Review: The Story Beast – This Is Bardcore

Blowhard beast beckons the end of the world

comedy review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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The Story Beast: This Is Bardcore
Published 14 Aug 2018

The apocalypse is nigh, reveals The Story Beast, aka John Henry Falle. Love Island in origins, Lovecraftian in execution, he revels in his role as harbinger of doom. Though he chugs beer and sweats in an overcoat of mortal moisture, the Beast is a mythical creature, part celestial traveller, part folksy yarn-spinner, his only companion in sharing the end of our world an amiable, talking tree.

The reasons for this nightmare are never properly established. But the possessed, demonstrative Beast has a lot of fun reiterating that the signs were all there. With his dramatic delivery, he spoofs Brexit Leaver anxiety to evoke a Golden Age of imperial British ambition and lax bestiality law, before disclosing the site of the imminent Armageddon with breezy, Blue Peter-style cheerfulness. Appropriating the storytelling innocence of his children's show, he presents 'Stephanie the Steam Engine', a mash-up of Rev W. Awdry and Stephen King's Maximum Overdrive that gets decidedly messy, with some gorgeously gross visual description. Elsewhere, there's a slow-burn but hilarious retelling of Bruce Willis's finest hour, a Monster Mash parody stuck in perpetual loop and plenty of inclusive audience interaction, including a creepy game of pass the parcel.

Although the cultural references are all fairly broad, it helps to be up on your genre fiction for This Is Bardcore, with a poem I took to be about Harry Potter leaving this muggle (?) clueless. Ebullient blowhard that he is though, Falle overwhelms all resistance with his dominant stage presence and bottomless reserves of good humour.