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Don’t Wake The Beast - An Interview with Kill The Beast

20 March 2017 Eleanor Turney

“We’re all friends because we’re weirdos,” says Clem Garritty, one fifth of theatre company Kill The Beast. “We just hope other people like the stuff that makes us laugh.” Given that Soho Theatre has programmed a triple-bill of the company’s work, it seems a reasonable bet. “We’d just foolishly come off the back of Edinburgh, where we did two shows a day in different venues. We sort of thought, well, if we can do that, and we’re still standing and we just about still like each other, then we can probably do this.”

The trilogy spans The Boy Who Kicked Pigs, which is an adaptation of a Tom Baker novel, original werewolf comedy He Had Hairy Hands and new sci-fi show Don’t Wake The Damp. Garritty says: “We had always constructed them as a bit of a trilogy – each one is inspired by a different period of twentieth century cinema. TBWKP is early silent cinema and German Expressionism and James Whale horror; HHHH was really inspired by folk horror, Hammer Horror and stuff like that, and DWTD was inspired by 80s and 90s techno, body horror like The Thing and Alien.”

“It’s a dream to be putting our plays on in the main house at Soho,” Garritty tells me. “We do keep trying to remind ourselves that and not get tied up in the panic of re-learning a show from two years ago. We’re an oddball that sits somewhere between theatre and comedy, and Soho is the venue that we love going to, because they have that really good mix. We started out as a theatre company, and always will be a theatre company, but we have this love of comedy, too. They seem like the perfect little hub of both of those things.”

Kill The Beast’s madcap and macabre shows span comedy, theatre and horror in a way that’s unlike anything else. The group met at Warwick University, where they were “encouraged to get together and make our own stuff”. Now based between London and Manchester, the five members of the group work in an interestingly collaborative way:

“We have a WhatsApp group and we’re always sending each other ideas. When something clicks, we go away and start writing scenes, come back together, read them out loud, and the stuff that we all laugh at stays in. Then we hand them over to the person to the left, who’ll take it away and give it a re-jig. We’re learning what each person is good at. We write the script, and then we have a team of exciting, talented designers and makers come on board. With DWTW, we’ve done projection mapping with moving screens, so we ended up working with a projection designer who usually does architecture.”



Garritty directs the shows, and Natasha Hodgson, Zoe Roberts, Ollie Jones and David Cummings play every character, swapping hats, wigs and facial expressions with alarming rapidity. The group has a strong aesthetic and draw inspiration from a wide range of sources:

“In terms of theatre, it’s companies like 1927, with their highly stylised work and storytelling, and smaller companies like Ridiculusmus, Theatre Ad Infinitum – people who use little in terms of props and set to tell huge stories. We want to have a strong visual identity like those guys do. In terms of other stuff, The League Of Gentlemen always pops up, but also things like Nighty Night and Alice Lowe who’s just made Prevenge, which is amazing. We go and see a lot of sketch comedy, rather than stand-up. Lazy Susan are amazing and a group called Goose, Max and Ivan. We lean towards narrative-based comedy, and we like slightly odd stuff, obviously.”

“We’re massively inspired by film: when we’re talking about the show or a scene we’ll say ‘we pan across a field, we crack through the window of the house into the room’. We write with film in mind, and then when we get it on its feet we have to work out how to show a camera panning across a motorway and then zooming into a Morris Minor, or whatever.”



Having seen all three shows, it’s clear that the company are developing their down style and voice. What can new audiences expect from their shows, I ask? “It’s a fun night out. It’s visually interesting and hopefully unlike stuff you’ve seen before. It’s very silly and British, and slightly dark and twisted. There are original songs. The costumes are very old and smelly now, so it’s very much a 4D experience…”

If that doesn’t make you want to snap up the last few tickets, then Garritty also hints that this might be the last outing for these shows: “There’s a nice feeling to doing them as a trilogy, and then we’re thinking about cracking on with some other stuff… this feels like a good way to maybe pack them into the attic for a little while. So, if you want to see them, this is your chance.”

Kill The Beast have three shows at Soho Theatre from 20th March: The Boy Who Kicked Pigs, He Had Hairy Hands and Don’t Wake The Damp. Find out more and book tickets here.
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