[Original British Comedy Guide review here]
Thoroughly rebranded from bleak Victoriana to bright yellow and black, The Penny Dreadfuls - Thom Tuck, Humphrey Ker and David Reed - have broken away from their traditionally 19th-century themed sketches into new exciting territory. Now unconstrained by corsets and breeches, the world is their oyster and the Dreadfuls are clearly having a ball - and judging from the whoops and cheers emitted from the audience during this performance, so are they.
Of course what works so well, and what has always worked in the Dreadful's favour, is that they are all such wonderful performers who draw out the very best in each other, each bringing something different to the sketches. Thom Tuck's fantastic physical comedy is called upon throughout the show, but showed off particularly well in a sketch in which he plays a wrestler, keen - for some reason - to take on a Gulf War veteran. David's finest Yorkshire-accented moment comes in a recurring sketch about a car race with the keys to a Honda Jazz at stake, while Humphrey's genuinely great acting skills - and floppy hair - are put to excellent use in an angst-ridden parody of the Twilight series.
There were technical issues with this show meaning that the Dreadfuls were plunged into darkness on a couple of occasions, something which only added to David's rather charming tendency towards barely-concealed corpsing. Of course, it also gave them the chance to ad-lib a little - always a joy for an audience - and it gave rise to a great line at the end of the show: "if you want your money back, just go to the box office and remember, we've been Pappy's Fun Club."
In the main, the sketches are given plenty of time to develop, and they do not exist in isolation but frequently reference each other, with characters and ideas cropping up time and again. As such this is superlative sketch comedy, created with care and performed with real flair by super-talented comics.