Aneas Faversham

The Penny Dreadfuls
Smirnoff Underbelly

Aneas Faversham is one of those magical Fringe treats that sneaks up on you from nowhere only to catapult it into your list of 'top ten Fringe experiences ever.'

I was having a beer and catching up on some work when a frizzy-haired blonde with heavy eye makeup came up to me and inquired if I was busy at six. Normally, I scowl at these kinds of intrusions - after all, I'm already booked into a half dozen shows a day and it's rare I have the time, let alone the inclination, to add more to the schedule. But something made me nod, and as she passed me a flyer shaped like a Victorian playing card and explained that Aneas Favershamwas a cross between Monty Python and the League of Gentlemen, but all done in a Victorian setting, I have to admit - I was skeptical, but sold.

So I trundled along to the press office to arrange my ticket, and twiddled my thumbs for the hour or so till the show began. Upon entering, I decided to throw caution to the wind and took a seat in the front row.

Aspirational as the frizzy-haired girl's classification of the show had seemed, it soon became clear that the Penny Dreadfuls in every way lived up to her hype. It was like watching a live-action book of short stories by Edward Gorey and Lemony Snickett. Perfect.

The sketches, which range from secret society birthday parties to vampire hunter lectures to not-quite-so-barren wives putting up with their repressed husbands, never go on too long, and always hit the right comedic note. Locals who frequent thte Stand Comedy Club may recognize Jamie Anderson, as charming in a wasitcoat and cravat as when putting down hecklers at a Monday night Red Raw.

I would happily have sat through another hour of these sketches, and if there had been a DVD for sale as we left I would have snatched out my Switch card to buy it. As it was, I proudly wore my complimentary 'not a vampire' badge for a good hour after leaving the theatre, and explained where I'd got it to multiple staff members at the other venues I visited over the night.

The best performances leave you wanting more, and the end of this hour of mirth is truly a heartbreaking thing. In fact, my only complaint about Aneas Faversham is that it ends. On a scale of one to five stars, this show deserves at least seven. Sadly, I don't think I'm allowed to give that many, so I'll settle for five and telling every person I know about this hysterical and well-crafted Victorian sketch comedy.

A quick read-through of their press release informs me that the Penny Dreadfuls have been performing Aneas Faversham for quite some time now, and apparently already made an impression with the BBC's comedy unit and in London. One can only hope that means we'll be seeing a lot more of this understated, over-the-top troupe's peculiar brand of theatrical curiosities in the years to come.

Reviewer: Rachel Lynn Brody

*Some links, including Amazon,,, ATG Tickets, LOVEtheatre, BTG Tickets, Ticketmaster, LW Theatres and QuayTickets, are affiliate links for which BTG may earn a small fee at no extra cost to the purchaser.

Are you sure?