The very last ShamWagon of the Fringe seizes the stage at 11pm tonight at the Pleasance Courtyard - making it one of the very last performances of anything in the whole festival.

We'd love to see you there, not least because we've been saving the Very Funniest Improv for the end.

This is the end...

Well crumbs. After three long weeks and just short of eight billion performances, packing in just overeighty-nine billion screaming Faver-fans, Aeneas and his Late-19th-century chums are about ready for bed.

It has been an amazing time that has seen us received in a manner almost entirely commensurate with our hopes and dreams (We had hoped for more Steam-powered automatons. Maybe next time). By the end, I think it's fair to say, we were all pretty worn out and Aeneas suffered a little as a result. "Does this mean the end for Victorian society's favourite son?" I like to imagine I hear you cry. Doubtful.

Discussions are ongoing as to whether we take the show to London for a little while, with the Albert Hall seeming like an appropriate and above all realistic venue. Otherwise plans are already being laid for next year, and Faversham 2.0. We may or may not be wearing hats!

beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Neil - a fantastic photographer as well as the Dreadful's technical director and lighting designer - has added some marvellous portraits to our flickr pool.

Gremlin Jamie
Why not go and take a look?

A sell-out week of Aeneas Faversham ends with a glowing five star review from the Edinburgh Evening News:

DON'T worry if you couldn't get tickets to see Aeneas Faversham. Chances are that it will be snapped up for a TV series when the Fringe finishes.

Owing a great deal to Monty Python for their style and to Michael Palin's Ripping Yarns in particular for the conceit - a sketch show set in Victorian times - The Penny Dreadfuls team consistently and constantly had the audience in hysterics.

Their timing was faultless and the absurdist, often displaced material, nodding occasionally to Milligan and the Pythons, was refreshingly original.

The quartet, dressed in morning coats with red cravats, ran through a wealth of characters including the terrifying Horatio T Station - the Station Master, a cowardly Boer war captain, and a Russian circus performer who proclaimed earnestly that "tea is coffee's bitch".

You'll be in debt to the Victorians for the rest of your life, if you actually get in to see it.

Listen to the nice man and buy a ticket. After all, your country need you (to see this show).

There are only a few precious performances left of Aeneas Faversham and ShamWagon: each show clad with a shower of critics' stars. While there are many reasons why you might not have seen these shows - plague, roads washed out by flood, held at Her Majesty's pleasure - there are very few convincing reasons. Find a cure, borrow a canoe and break out of prison - it's really that simple.

So, lest you be struck with woe and grief for not having witnessed The Penny Dreadfuls in action, make your way to the Underbelly and Pleasance for our last few performances.

Aeneas Faversham at the Underbelly - last night 27th August.
ShamWagon at the Pleasance - last night 28th August.

the audience speaks

As the "online media manager" (a title invented one day on the Meadows as more respectable than "blogging muggins") I try to keep track of the online public response to the Penny Dreadfuls. Today's find beats every other quote out of town:
If i could bring them off using words alone, I would.
Delightful - we're glad Aeneas Faversham had such a strong impact and hope that our mothers are not reading this.

Finally! More stars for ShamWagon

Not many people have reviewed ShamWagon, it is, after all, a small improv show in a small venue. So to add to the lovely four stars from Three Weeks, SkinnyFest have awarded ShamWagon FOUR stars. That is rather fun. Here are bits of the review:
ShamWagon take the crowd's suggestions and run all the way to funnyland. The cross the canals of hilarity, climb the mountains of ridiculousness, jump the hahas of the hysterical.

It comes down, of course, to the troupe: they are loose, inspired, and they snatch every opportunity they spy... While only one woman numbers among them, there's no lack of variety in ShamWagon's cast: the short and schizoid one, the creepy black-humoured one, the sharp and middle aged one, the lanky one who plays dumb. The marvel is how well they work together, throwing themselves into the silly and the gut-busting with a beautiful skull-cracked ease.


Aeneas Faversham has received 4 stars from The Scotsman: text of the storming review to follow as soon as possible.

Oh, and we also sold out again this evening: it's allll good in Team Penny Dreadful.

UPDATE - here's a little something from that review:

Jamie Anderson, Humphrey Ker, David Reed and Thom Tuck - all former members of the Edinburgh University improv troupe the Improverts - have crafted an absolute winner of a show here, and what's more they are all strong enough performers to make their material sparkle. ...

The acting is excellent throughout - controlled and confident - but what is really striking about this quartet is their effortlessly excellent diction. Given the state of radio comedy these days - and I'm thinking of Radio 4 in particular here - somebody should get these guys on the airwaves, pronto.

Two's Company

Due to a complicated series of illnesses, latenesses and Humphrey's "special relationship" with HM Armed Forces, Pete and Jamie were the only two ShamWagoneers to make it to last night's show. With hilarious consequences.


Improv is theatre without the safety net of a script, and long-form doubly so. But two-person long-form improv is just asking for trouble! With nobody else to come in and "rescue" a scene, with nobody else to take over for a while so you can recharge your comedy batteries, two-person improv is the full-fat skinofyourteeth improv experience. And the boys did us proud. *sniff*

Probably won't happen again, mind, so last night's audience got themselves a genuine old-timey Spirit Of The Fringe(tm) performance. Woo!

the magic of theatre

Another sell-out performance of Aeneas Faversham, with a lovely man from Broadway Baby filming a few sketches from the show for their v-log - and, of course, more pictures from behind the theatre curtain in our flickr pool, showing there's nothing so glamorous as being filmed in an unswept side street:

filmed for broadway baby vblog

Fingers crossed for our last few major reviews which should surface sometime this week.

Snakes in a Stomach

More sell-out fun last night with ShamWagon. I arrived at the Pleasance at around 10pm, to find the delightful Blind Mirth gang (who are all in The Tempest) swallowing up the final five tickets. There were only four of us on stage last night, but it was somehow quite the little kicker of a show; we planned to do three monologues followed by scenes, but the scenes went so well, we only did two monologues. The whole show built to a moving emotional climax of a suicidal father - it was too late for him as but five minutes ago, Humphrey had used a hypodermic to pump his own stomach with a snake.

It was a very fun show. Steve berated us afterward a little, reminding us that "long-form" does not mean "long-scene" (some scenes had been monstrous epics of Italian magicians, Igloo salesmen and QVC presenters), but Steve overall thought it was a lovely show. Good. Steve is usually an excellent barometer of such things. Steve is generally an excellent barometer for all things, such as political theatre, improvisational theatre and the weather.

Ripping Yarn

One of the Writers' Guild scouts came to see Faversham. We weren't shortlisted in the end for the Award, but the scout's very complimentary report back is on the List's website, so let us document it here:
Set in the murky streets of Victorian London (via the North Pole) Aeneas Faversham’s sketches conjure up a claustrophobic world of secret societies, murder investigations and medical misdemeanours. Reminiscent of Michael Palin’s Ripping Yarns with its use of absurd situations and historical settings, the four man cast play with old-fashioned customs and figures of speech to create a bizarre hybrid of sketch show and melodrama. Even without the Victorian theme, many of the scenes are well structured with some original lines, and although some of the sketches are not as strong as others, overall it is a skilful and clever show.
Proof of our sold-outed-ness: our name up in chalk.

sold out

News just in: FIRST FULL SELL OUT of Aeneas today. We've sold out ShamWagon a bunch of times, but Aeneas has a bigger auditorium, and is possibly more niche. But word is out that it is a super good show. And it's a Saturday. Awesome.


Our FOURTH FIVE-STAR review magically appeared on Chortle today.
This is a wonderful scripted and strongly acted selection of cod Victorian melodramatic snatches, if that's the word, introduced by the dandyish gentleman explorer Aeneas Faversham

I'm sadly old enough to have been at the Fringe in 1981 and seen that year's Cambridge Footlights revue which included Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, and Rowan Atkinson. I remember Fry and Thompson being good but raw; the others were fairly innocuous. Yet the talented team behind Aeneas Faversham team, The Penny Dreadfuls, are far more developed as both writers and performers.

I spy a straight-to-BBC Two TV series and two years of fame ­ and then who knows what? The four-man cast of Jamie Anderson, Humphrey Ker, Dave Reed and Thom Tuck come fully-fledged with charisma, talent, an impressive range of accents and sharp characterisations. Production-wise, they have stark stage lighting and a strong soundtrack to add to the atmospheric ambience. They even have the one who is as tall as John Cleese and the one who darts around like Michael Palin.

They haven't missed a trick in this enchanting portrait of bad children's entertainers, vampire hunting, 'barren' wives and various evocative slices of Victoriana.

This is only one of four shows that The Penny Dreadfuls, who come from an improv background, have developed. They are frighteningly professional, and streets ahead of any competitors.
We have 28 stars. Easy enough for like, a galaxy. Or at least a Galaxy Caramel. This is all very awesome. More badges coming next week, as the tub is empty. We've already sold over 30 tickets for tonight's performance so hopefully we're now going to start selling out our big venue. Bring it.

Cabaret Overload (or, Clubbed To Dead)

The Dreadfuls have been plying their art even later at night over the last couple of days, at the Bongo Club's Vaudville Cabaret on Thursday and then at C's Midnight Cabaret in the wee hours of this morning.

The Penny Dreadfuls @ The Bongo ClubThe Penny Dreadfuls @ Midnight Cabaret

Both were jolly evenings with plenty of frills: Midnight Cabaret won in terms of nipple tassles, but Vaudville had the more attentive crowd. A Nihilist Considers His Worth As Reflected In The Forlorn Expression Of A Child was, sadly, not performed at either event.

mike mcshane joins shamwagoneers (temporarily)

Last night's ShamWagon featured the inestimable Mike McShane - befriended during last year's fringe and kind enough to join us again for long-form shenanigans. Mike has been appearing in a number of improv nights all over the fringe - including the Udderbelly's one-night-only Udder Improv - as well as performing in Marlon Brando's Corset, a new comedy at the Pleasance Courtyard, and Talk Radio in the Udderbelly.

Thanks for finding time to join us!


ANOTHER FIVE STARS. We now have a total of 23 stars for Aeneas Faversham. In spite of spelling Aeneas Faversham without the first and crucial 'e', the British Theatre Guide were rather pleased with the whole affair.
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 waistcoat 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 Aeneas 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.


This very night, the Dreadfuls performed at their first Spank!, the Underbelly's rather odd comedy cabaret club. As the first act on we got the audience before they were too drunk to pay attention to nineteenth-century wit and a jolly time was had by all.

The Spank! crowd were entertained by The Station Master, The Duel and the world premiere of a new sketch tentatively titled A Nihilist Considers His Worth As Reflected In The Forlorn Expression Of A Child - or 'Airwolf' for short. It still needs a lot of development, but I'm sure it's got a future in the show.

Spank! was fun. Let's do it again sometime!

The Stage Takes Note

The Stage came to see ShamWagon! And they liked it! Although they do seem to be under the apprehension that long-form is an unstable compound:
With the six comedians only having each other’s material to feed off, this does open up the danger of ending up down a comedic cul-de-sac. Which, thanks to the cast’s strongly inventive imaginations, does not happen too often.
Danger! Do not expose ShamWagon to excess heat! Do not pierce ShamWagon! Do not dispose of ShamWagon in a fire!

Read the full review online.

Word of our glorious flyers has reached in a feature on fringe bribery.. uh.. publicity:
Their director, Idil Sukan, is also a designer and, as all designers, wasn’t content to do things the way everybody else was doing them.
So rather than producing normal flyers, she designed two sets of playing cards that contained all the show information on one side and is a normal playable deck of cards on the other.

They were even nice enough to use a picture of the mighty Ace of Spades to head the feature. Hurrah!

Dreadful Music

Several people have asked me about the music that I'm using in both the Dreadfuls shows, so I thought I'd list a few details.

Aeneas Faversham mainly uses classic adventure film scores between sketches and for audience preshow music. The majority of these can be found on Silva Screen's four-disc EPICS compilation, performed by the City Of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra; Faversham uses cues from
  • Troy - Remember - James Horner
  • Quo Vadis - Ave Caesar - Miklos Rosza
  • The Alamo - Dimitri Tiomkin
  • The Ten Commandments - Elmer Burnstein
  • Sodom And Gomorrah - Overture - Miklos Rosza
  • Masada - Jerry Goldsmith
  • Mary Queen of Scots - John Barry
  • Exodus - Overture - Ernest Gold
  • The 300 Spartans - March of the Spartans - Manos Hadjidakis
  • The Robe - Alfred Newman
  • The Sea Hawk - Erich Wolfgang Korngold
  • El Cid - Miklos Rosza
  • Captain Blood - Main Title - Erich Wolfgang Korngold
In addition, Faversham uses 'It's In The Subtext' from James Newton Howard's score to King Kong, 'Bromhead's Safari' from Zulu by John Barry, and Julius Fučik's 'Thunder and Blazes' (Einzug der Gladiatoren) as circus music.

ShamWagon is a little harder to describe - as an improvised show nothing is entirely set in stone, but there are recurring features. I usually throw in a selection of mashups from Best of Bootie 2005 as preshow/warmup music, particularly Since U Been Gahan (Kelly Clarkson vs. Rex The Dog vs. Depeche Mode) by Earworm and Walking With A Ghost In Paris (Tegan & Sara vs. Mylo) by Party Ben.

Scenebreaks in the Wagon are covered either by something slightly ambient/electronic or more upbeat cues from action-film scores, depending on the mood required. The former is largely provided courtesy of Creative Commons licensed music, mainly in the ambient and electronic sections of the wonderful, as well as from groups like fivegreencircle and phylum sinter. Action cues include Don Davis' score to The Matrix: Reloaded, Hans Zimmer's Mission: Impossible 2, Michael Giacchino's work on Alias and just about anything from Lola Rennt.

The ShamWagon opens and closes to the unstoppable noise of the Fox NFL Theme (aka NFL Football Gametime) by Phil Garrod, Reed Hays and Scott Schreer.

So now you know!

it's... full of stars

Another good review for Aeneas Faversham, from SkinnyFest - though currently (and tantalisingly) bereft of stars:
The absurd logic of the Victorian psyche is superbly sourced in this bright sketch show by the players of The Penny Dreadfuls. Gravediggers and crooked surgeons, Yorkshire vampire hunters, puritanical clowns and camp, duelling city gents are all on stage for this Gothic dance around Dickensian Britain. ... For while this production sometimes falters from the pedestal of nonsensical, gleeful amusement, seldom does it not land on the pyre of clever entertainment.

Fingers crossed for the arrival of our marks out of five..
UPDATE: It's four stars! Woo.

Highlighter at the Ready

ShamWagon is mentioned as one of the Five Festival Highlights in The Times today on their Edinburgh Festival News Page (pg 23), alongside Lizzie Roper, Boothby Graffoe, The Wilson Dixon Hour and Jason Byrne.
"Improvisation from talented young comic actors."

Five More Stars!

This is just literally in and hot off the press, thanks to the review-spotting abilities of Improverts' producer Lucy: Aeneas Faversham has just got the loveliest five star review in ThreeWeeks!
Rarely is a sketch show laugh-out loud funny in every single scene, but the Penny Dreadfuls are the definite exception to this widely established rule - with each scene more comical than the last.

The full review isn't online yet, but can be read on the front of today's printed daily edition. Faversham got a great response from a fantastic audience earlier today so the week's off to a brilliant start!

An Aldercation

After last night's ShamWagon Terry Alderton sent us a message via the Pleasance venue staff. See, Terry's show starts in Pleasance Above at 22:20 so it's still going on when the Wagon starts rolling - apparently he can hear our music coming through the floor.

But we can hear his music - not to mention various microphone/mouth shenanigans - coming through the ceiling of Pleasance Below, so it seems like a fair enough tradeoff; just one of the hazards of Fringe performance.

It was communicated to me that he's bigger than I am. I'll turn it down when he turns it down.

Gun Shy

Last night the Dreadfuls performed a sketch from Aeneas Faversham at The Gun Show, C's late-night chat show-type thing. We had fun. I got free beer.


More praise for The Penny Dreadfuls and the playing cards from Three Weeks, as found in the eDaily edition.
"A wee while ago, I received a package from them, and I forgot to tell you about it, and not because it was not filled with great things. You all must surely now what a sucker I am for a great promotional gift? Well, this is a great promotional gift, from the Penny Dreadfuls, two sets of playing cards, one for each of their two shows, Aeneas Faversham (a Victorian sketch comedy show at The Underbelly, 6pm) and ShamWagon (their long form improvised show, Pleasance Courtyard, 11pm). I'm told by one member of the Penny Dreadfuls that I should be playing canasta with them. I have told him I should be so lucky, before September. Anyway, They're bloody good, so you should go see their shows... they were on the radio show today, and were rather lovely and very entertaining."

ShamWagon has received FOUR STARS in Three Weeks!
"Whip-smart performers... rif off each other with ease"
The review is not online yet, but can be spotted in the print daily around town. Super-awesome.

Ladies and Gentlemen! Our first ShamWagon review! It's from a man called Paul Foxcroft at ITV, who is also the organiser of the huge improv night at C Venues and involved in the legendary Shakespeare for Breakfast. He's very taken with the playing card flyers and has been showing them everyone he meets. Phenomenal. His Festival reviews are here, where he has been fantastically complimentary about our performances in ShamWagon as well as the flyers.
Mr. Ker appears with another comedy company called the Penny Dreadfuls who present a relentless (in a good way) hour of superb improvised comedy in the form of Shamwagon at the Pleasance Below, 11pm nightly (not 14th).

Ker and his compatriots possess a seemingly inexhaustible energy and enthusiasm alongside some very sharp, very funny minds. The show takes a but two words from the audience and squeezes a jam-packed fifty-five minutes of comedy into the world and the world is better for it.

Individual praise is totally counterproductive thanks to the sheer quality of the performers. Plus they have what must be the best flyers and publicity materials at the Fringe this year, a deck of playing cards with show details on the reverse, I'm now trying to collect a full set. Go see them if you get a chance.

Humphrey, Jamie and myself have also been moonlighting with The Improverts, the short-form improv comedy show where we all learnt the improv trade. Paul came along to one the shows Humph and I were starring in and also mentions this show in his diary, scroll through.

Boring Tech Notes

Follow me down the rabbit hole into the exciting and sexy world of technical theatre! Or not.

1) Eagle-eyed audiences who've been exposed to Aeneas Faversham over the last week may have noticed the light flickering slightly. This is not, as one wag commented, my attempt to replicate gaslight, but a dodgy parcan [not a dangerous dodgy parcan, I should add - just a flickery one]. Yesterday I replaced said parcan with a different one - a longnose, not a shortnose, so there's a slight difference between the two sides.

It still flickered.

This indicates that something else is acting-up, probably either the grelco or the cabling running to that position. Again, I should stress that these are not dangerous, just extremely annoying to me. It will be fixed!

2) It may surprise you to know that, so far, I've been running the Faversham lighting entirely manually, despite the swanky console we've got in the Belly Dancer. This is partly 'cos I didn't have time to program the show during our tech-time, but it's also been easier to run things on the fly up to this point. Now that everything's pretty much in place I've plotted all the necessary cues and timings into the Fat Frog, and yesterday was the first non-manual version of Faversham: I now only need two hands to make everything work at the same time.

Isn't my life exciting!

Cabaret Tenting

Thom, Jamie and myself performed ShamWagon in the Cabaret Tent smack in the middle of the Meadows for Fringe Sunday today. Noted London dreamy slam-poet Luke Wright hosted, bringing us on immediately after gold-panted quasi-acrobat cabaret performers, with wigs and erections. The middle-aged, sport-jacketted bemused public didn't get it. We did. It was joyous. Gold-pant joyous. We've now followed Four Poofs and a Piano and Two Poofs in gold pants. In retrospect, they may not be Poofs. I should stop being so prejudiced about gold pants.

We saw Jimeoin. We told him about Dave, showed him the picture of Dave with Jimeoin's eyes. Then we showed him a picture of Dave. He agreed that Dave looked like him, had the same eyes. Then he walked off. It was a bit weird. Remember that none of us actually know Jimeoin. God. What have we done?

Another glowing review for Aeneas Faversham, with four stars from the good people at one4review:
These dapper, waist-coated dandy's perform a variety of glimpses into Victoriana [with] characters so wide ranging it would be difficult to categorise them. [...] Well written and beautifully performed. For something slightly different this show comes highly recommended.

The Penny Dreadfuls are also being interviewed this morning on the Three Weeks show on Festival FM - tune in on 87.7FM or return later today for juicy highlights.

funk related shortage

ShamWagon sold out last night so we joined the semi-elite group of shows whose name goes up in lights.. uh.. chalk in the Pleasance Courtyard.

more shamwagonnery

After an hour of improvisation we learnt two lessons: toast is more complicated than previously anticipated, and Neil - our technical director who improvises along with the show - has not one note of funk in his music collection.

Aeneas Faversham has just received its first five star review, courtesy of Broadway Baby:
Penny Dreadfuls are a comedy troupe with a difference – all of the sketches are set in Victorian England [...] their ingenuity and quirky take on perceived cliché’s of that era is constantly surprising and consequently consistently very funny.
Read the whole review online here. Yay!

The Great Improv Gambit

Wednesday last saw Humph and myself take part in The Great Improv Gambit at C Central, with H onstage and me squeezed into Tiny Tech Corner. It was an absolute baboon of an evening, with an oh-so-shouty audience and two teams of hyper/drunk expert improvisers from all over the Fringe.

A good time was had by all, in a roundabout way, and apparently it will be on again next Wednesday and the Wednesday after that. Just so you know.

Con Air

Frequent visitors will know that ShamWagon's venue, Pleasance Below, is a hot-hot-hotbed of sweat - cram sixty people in such a small room, make them laugh uncontrollably and watch the temperature rise. But a few days ago those lovely Pleasance folk installed an air conditioner-thing.

The problem: the expelled-air hose was too short.

The solution:

Binbags and gaffa tape - perfecto! The Dreadfuls salute the resourcefulness of our venue staff in providing us with a new, improved and cooler atmosphere!

The Collectors

These people are terrifying. We have inadvertently created a challenge for them. They refuse to buy whole packs of cards (which we're selling at £3...), instead come and stalk us down to find more cards. They have, of course, 55 cards to collect (if they're aware of the rare Appendix card with the production details on it). People do follow me round on the Royal Mile, sometimes looming ominously close by, others circle like buzzards - why? In case I die? Of a sudden hernia? Scattering all the cards on the Royal Mile cobbles, for them to sweep in and gobble them up? I would like to think, that the cards are so superawesome that if I were to collapse dying, those around me would first hastily collect up what cards they can, and then phone an ambulance.

People do come up to me asking for particular cards (e.g. "a Queen of Clubs, so then I've got all the Queens"), then waxing lyrical about their prized collection of cards, while I fume quietly at the fact they're not paying their £3.

The best collector however, isn't even in Edinburgh. A young gentleman in Hungary apparently has a wonderful thick scrap book full of Joker Cards through the ages, some around 50 years old. His friends happened to be lounging in the Pleasance Courtyard and were really taken with the ShamWagon cards that they asked for a Joker and then told me about their Hungarian friend. I also cracked out an Aeneas Joker (David's spankingly lovely face - with a silly hat) which they marvelled at, noticing the cross hatching. Goodness. I really get excited when someone appreciates the cross hatching. I hope they get pasted into Hungary Boy's collection.

People want our flyers. They keep them in their wallets and want 55 of them. That's pretty ridiculous. Also it's pretty cool.

Self Praising Hour

We've only had one printable review so far, the delightful review from The Stage, which doesn't have that many concise pull-out quotes, but works brilliantly as a whole to describe and praise the show.

However, stapling the entire review to our dinky little playing card flyers is somewhat unwieldy. Indeed stapling any review to them is a somewhat upsetting prospect. Surely you'd be very disappointed with a stapled-up playing card. So for now we're continuing with naked flyers, however, we're now competing with other shows handing out their own publicity materials weighted down with a smattering of staples (holding down reviews of course, they haven't just disfigured their flyers with small iron piercings).

Anyway, so in competition with that, we are at least realising that positive word of mouth about the shows is rife. When flyering on the Royal Mile people are gratefully accepting our playing cards and we're often recognised. David was accosted by a gaggle of fans who quoted lines from Aeneas back at him the other day. Others have remarked in superlative terms about my impressive impersonation of a mountain goat that I did the other day during ShamWagon. It's kind of fun really.

Once a couple more reviews get published, I may have to swallow my card-pride and start defacing the playing cards. I'll weep though. I'll do it, but I'll weep.

Yesterday was a Glorious Day

Chiefly in my thoughts as I write this are the truly astounding Blood-Eating Chicken Sisters. They performed for just one day here at the Fringe - without a venue, start time or, indeed, plot, script or forethought. They were at once a stunning critique of the vainglory and hubristic politik of the Edinburgh Summer(tm) yet a haunting reminder of our own ineluctable drive to clown around.
Photos and video coming soon...

The Stage

There's a lovely, lovely review of Aeneas Faversham in The Stage - go and read it at

"Pricking Victorian bombast with a cleverly timed 21st century rejoinder... consistently inventive and off the wall-skits... The Penny Dreadfuls clearly love all the dour reverends, serial poisoners and bumbling policemen of the Victorian psyche and this highly amusing show is right at home in the sublime gloom of Edinburgh's Underbelly."

It even mentions the lighting, which is nice. Unnecessary, but nice. Go read. Then come see.

ninjas, pirates, oh my

Our publicity material (lit. Most Beautiful Fliers Ever) has caught the eye of Simon Neville, the Evening News' resident blogger for the duration of the Fringe:

So far my personal favourite has been Shamwagon's who have made a whole deck of cards with the show on the packet and back of each card, and with each suit representing different aspects of improvisation.

Those suits are - of course - ninjas, pirates, outer space and the wild west. Strictly speaking, only a tiny percentage of the show has revolved around these elements to date, but they are the pole stars to our ship of fools.

Simon's own show is Murder at the Savoy, which opens on the 9th at St. Augustines.

If you've yet to see ShamWagon, you are forgiven but should make it your noble duty to visit us at 11pm in the Pleasance Courtyard.

Step Four: Badges!

Badges have arrived! Essential for differentiating Vampyres from Not-A-Vampyres, always wear yours to prevent the Vampyre-Hunting team of Willis and Hobbes from staking you through the heart.

Try Not To Stare

Apparently it's been rumoured that David looks like Australian stand-up Jimeoin, but it was only this afternoon that wee Davey got his hands on a flyer to really test the theory out:

That amused us, not to mention every single other person who saw it for the entire evening. Freakish and wrong, but unstoppably hilarious.

Run Neil Run

About half an hour before Faversham was due to start today, David realised he'd forgotten his contact lenses. David is completely blind, and his usual specs don't look at all Victorian, so muggins here volunteered to run halfway across the city and back to fetch his bag from Humph's car.

Just thought I'd mention that.

5 down...

With five performances of The Fringe's Finest Sketch Show (tm) now under our belt, I think it is now safe to say we are beginning to hit our stride as far as Aeneas is concerned. After a slightly wobbly start due to the unrestrained peculiarities of our venue, we have now settled into a pleasant rythm that has seen us send home three very happy audiences on the bounce.

Now that minor concern has been addressed, we can turn our attention to garnering sparkly reviews and throwing our weight around like we is famous or sumfin'. A number of lovely people have accosted one or all of us in the street to tell us we are good, and this trapping of minor fame is most acceptable. Thanks new friends.

In the Wider World of the Festival (tm), I've yet to see any other shows, apart from The Improverts, which I was guesting on and was as fantastic as ever, and an afternoon character comedy show at the Pleasance which kinda sucked. I shall not name it here because that's not cool, but if anyone wants to know what it was, you can e-mail in and I'll tell you. Unless it is your show, in which case I will pretend it was someone else.

Time to fill the rest of my night off with Football Manager 2006 and sweet, sweet repose.


Busy Sunday

Backstage at the Bongo
The Dreadfuls bounced all over Edinburgh yesterday, clocking up four appearances (that's two over par): in addition to Aeneas Faversham at the Underbelly and ShamWagon at the Pleasance, there were rapid bursts of ShamWagon at the Fringe launch party and Faversham at the Bongo Club!

The Cabaret Stage at the Fringe launch had us all chewing our boots backstage - the audience was lapping up 4 Poofs and a Piano and we weren't at all sure how well a serving of ShamWag would go down. But some high-energy improv won them over and a jolly time was had by all.

A full hour of ShamWagon and a short trip down the road from Pleasance later and the Dreadfuls were waiting to go on as the last act at the Bongo Club. After a little backstage japery the cabaret crowd received two of Faversham's finest sketches with the respect and admiration they deserved. And then home.

The road to glory is paved with hard work. And bear masks.


Ladies and Gentlemen, yesterday was very flash. David arrived from performing short-form improv at The Stand Comedy Club at lunch time, to then join the other gentlemen in a high street "performance" on a Royal Mile stage. We have several more of these booked, we're going to start engaging more and more people in Blackjack on these little stages.

Aeneas Faversham then kicked off to its biggest audience yet (around 60), and was by far the best performance the boys have done so far in the Underbelly.

Pop from that over to the Fringe Launch Party at Cargo, where ShamWagon followed Four Poofs and a Piano on the cabaret stage. That was pretty awesome. Turns out that gay oft-televised (the Poofs are Jonathan Ross residents) four part harmonies can be followed up very successfully. Highlights of ShamWagon include (from the audience suggestion "spandex") the ongoing feud of Captain Flexo and Doctor Bastard.

Five minutes of Fringe Party Schmoozing later we returned to the Pleasance Courtyard where we met our good friends Andy P and some people from St Andrew's improv troupe Blind Mirth, who all came to see ShamWagon. The house was not quite sold out but still pretty full, and it was a really rather decent show. Best yet in the Pleasance? Close call between this show and Saturday night's performance. However last night might just win. It did include Liverpudlians stuck down a well. With Alan Shearer.

We went down Holyrood Road to the Bongo Club for the Vaudeville/Bongo launch party. It was all very decorous and beautiful, with hundreds of audience members, outrageously dressed in burlesque and Victorian garb, but quietly attentively sat in front of the stage downstairs to watch circus and cabaret acts. The boys, appropriately tailcoated and cravatted, performed Station Master and The Duel to much rapturous applause. It was rather super.

Urgm... we don't have four performances today. We're going to flier.


Blah! Saturday night at ShamWagon: a full house and by far our best show in the Pleasance yet. A heavingly hot full house. Foolishly in this sweltering heat, our ShamWagon attire is a black shirt and jeans which were unpleasantly stuck to our sweaty slippery skin by the end of the show. Tomorrow night we shall all wear only loose white tunics.

I jest, for ShamUnit Thom has taken all our black shirts to mass-wash them. You people who have yet to see ShamWagon: come on Sunday night. We shall be lavender fresh.

Some extra special treats - two teaser samples from Aeneas Faversham recorded during our radio show special in the run-up to the Fringe:

Vampire Hunters

Regional Accent Syndrome

More to follow..

previews schmeviews

More pictures have trickled into our photo pool over at flickr:

still venue (without life)

We're also three shows into our run of ShamWagon and starting to hit our stride, even though it's improvised comedy and each show is a fresh start: a fresh drop off a high building with only one word suggestions for comfort.

That claim - know to improv fans as the Universal Declaration of Not Our Fault - is the good and bad news of disposable theatre. Our less-than-glittering shows disappear without trace, but so do the ones which (if repeated) would change the course of all human culture and lead to a new glorious age of comic enlightenment.

Our first shows in the Pleasance Below have modest but well-formed audiences of thirty-something: they laughed, they cried, they questioned our moral fibre and - most importantly - they didn't ask for their money back. If that isn't some measure of success, we're not sure what is.

Week 1 rule: Flier. Must flier more than ever before.

T is for Tannoy Revisited

Well, we noticed the boisterous tannoy next to the Belly Dancer, and so did the wonderful technical staff at the Underbelly who have to sit in every performance. Before we had even arrived at our venue today, they had made sure that the loudspeaker was turned right down, so we didn't hear a thing from the outside world. Thank you thank you to our wise technicians.

Our next challenge is dealing with the entirely superfluous air conditioning system designed specifically for cooling down the moving head lights, which are not used in our Victorian show, which is of course instead lit entirely with phosphorous green limelights. But tomorrow. Tomorrow we shall deal with this.

More news: lovely big audience, one reviewer, one scout. Super.

See you at ShamWagon.

t is for tannoy

The Underbelly tannoy is a powerful device: there can be few people who didn't know our show was about to start, which is a good thing. However, it's so powerful that we could also hear it quite clearly halfway through our show, which was not quite so pleasing and led to an unexpected not-quite-Brechtian pause.

While we know it's not part of any of the sketches, some audience members seemed unsure. Unsure until they lost their sense of hearing, that is, and had to depend on the finely funny faces of the cast for entertainment: it's not the first time the cast have been thankful for that particular gift of nature.

So, until the tannoy is adjusted by 20 or 30 decibels by our superlative venue crew (hint hint) here's a quick guide:

Aeneas Faversham: Finely wrought comic Victoriana delivered by four smart gents.

Underbelly tannoy: Distorted demons announcing a five minute call for the end of all human existence.

Please enjoy the show and remember - minor teething problems build character.

first faversham

One down, twenty something to go: the first performance of Aeneas Faversham is over.

the reverend bobo entertains

We managed to sell a healthy number of tickets for a preview - thanks to everyone who came out to support us. We're now facing the regular daily work of flyering, seduction and outright lies to build an audience.

Unfortunately, the cast were unable to bask in the mild-glory of a job well done as they were due at the E4 pod in Bristo Square (next to the Udderbelly) to record some promos in a large, sweaty purple box. Please insert your own joke here.

The E4 production crew seemed to be laughing, so here's hoping they decide to use us online or on TV; we'll keep you posted but it should be at least a couple of weeks. Finally, recording was slightly interrupted by visitors from the other Empire but it's always nice to make new friends.


Last night saw the Pleasance debut of the mighty Shamwagon. Relatively small, but expressive, audience witnessed comedic spinnery, alchemy and tomfoolery using the following suggestions:

They formed the basis of our monologues and, by proxy, the rest of the show... and a good time was had by all. Tonight sees the first Faversham show. Super-hiper-mega-cool, as the French say.

faversham landing

Just back from our get-in for Aeneas Faversham at the Smirnoff Underbelly: minor problems, including "cast too tall and ceiling too low" syndrome which will apparently be fixed using the "magic of theatre." Hmm. Hopefully our red curtains have also stopped circling the city and arrived in the venue.

bellydancer in the underbelly 1

Technical director Neil had to leave for a preview of his other show - Nutshell's staging of Stars at the Traverse theatre - just before Xander (his stand-in) arrived, leaving the rest of the production to pass on Neil's secrets: I'm not quite sure how we'd cope if the company (and our friends) didn't have a background in improvisation.

Right - time to change for the Underbelly press launch. See you there?

Shamwagon preview tomorrow night

Hurrah! The first ShamWagon preview is tomorrow night (Wednesday 2nd) in the Pleasance Courtyard, with tickets at a so-low-I-can't-believe-it's-the-Fringe £5. Click the ticket below to book now, or only have your salty, salty tears for comfort.

The Shamwagon Rolls Into Pleasance

Last night, when normal people were asleep in their beds and the rest of Edinburgh was drilling holes in their wallets in the Speigeltent, the mighty forces of Shamwagon decended on Pleasance Below.

It's a great little space - the perfect venue for inyourface Shamwagoneering but with a larger stage than at the Stand. The chaps all seemed very happy with it, particularly since the venue staff seem to have a pirate theme going on.

As the Technical Director this was largely an opportunity for me to get to grips with Below's facilities, an unknown quantity until this point: would the lighting be controlled by a series of men in lab coats operating banks of resistance dimmers or a furiously complex moving-head rig running from a bunch of Pearls? In a word, neither - the desk is a Zero 88 Alcora, the ideal little manual console for busking on the go. This makes me happy.

After checking that I could get power to my PowerBook, plugging in the all-important Voice Of God microphone and making sure that Humphrey's broken iPod could still play AC/DC that was pretty much the "technical" part of the technical rehearsal done and dusted. Next time will be playtime!