If a creepy sense of deja vu has descended on you, dear reader, fear not; this is indeed the second review of this show, at this venue, on this site.
A time-travelling purveyor of Liverpool’s finest spooky tales, Thaddeus Bent began life as a sketch group regular, with creator Rob Bond going on to develop a one-man show around the character which debuted at 81 Renshaw this time last year (you can read the first review here). Twelve months later and with an Edinburgh Fringe run under its belt, Fear-tre of Fear returned to the city in a slicker, more enhanced guise.
The show essentially showcases four of Thaddeus’s most terrifying – and totally, completely true – tales of the Scouse unexpected. But Bond no longer performs alone, and the show has been fleshed out by the (more or less) on-stage presence of suitably hooded and black-robed techie Oli Bond, and the musical accompaniments of guitarist Danny Bradley. This brings a fresh element to the piece, giving it more atmosphere and demonstrating it could work well as radio comedy too.
Whereas last year’s production had an experimental and improvisational vibe to it, this time things felt a lot more honed, scripted and organised. Thaddeus has a swagger that is part Dr Who, part Dr Evil, and an unashamed, if somewhat misplaced, belief in his own talents as a storyteller. His tales of gothic cliche are littered with some brilliant non sequiturs, callbacks and bizarre pop culture references that throw hilarious curveballs at their bemused audience, breaking any accidental creepy tension in the most ridiculously silly way.
The ending of the show has also changed over the last year, giving way to final tale set in the bowels of the old Cains brewery that becomes a live action, one-man first person shooter. It’s a combination of the daft and the detailed, playing with a familiar format and subverting it in shamelessly geeky style, that ensures there’s never a dull moment with Thaddeus Bent around.