Four Screws Loose in The Big Screw Up

“Are you ready to party?!” blares the PA at the start of the show and the audience roars in the agreement. Yes, four man comedy team Four Screws Loose definitely have developed a Fringe following, as demonstrated by their sold-out performances.

Whatever else you can say of Four Screws Loose, speed is always of the essence; this is light, fun and entertaining stuff and they perform it well.

Yes, they’re full of energy and clearly happy enough to show a bit of flesh during the necessarily quick costume changes between sets. They sing, they dance (enthusiastically, if not quite up to Strictly Come Dancing standards of choreography) and revel in the absurdity of some of their sketches. They’re like four enthusiastic puppies just desperate to be hugged - especially Joseph Elliot, who manages to carry gamely on with the show on crutches, having broken his foot (though we’re not told how or when), even putting them to good use in some of the more exuberant dance routines.

Now, I happen to be old enough to remember when television variety shows such as Crackerjack! and The Two Ronnies took popular songs of the day and wrote new ‘amusing’ lyrics to their melodies—for the most part, to be honest, this was more often ‘miss’ than ‘hit’. So to see it revived here is disconcerting; yes, there are some genuine laughs to be had with the opening series of warnings about misusing smartphones—all sung to tunes by Abba—but the problem is they are somewhat throwaway lines. Funny, but nothing exceptional.

Invariably, the cultural references these four guys latch onto are those to do with popular music and the trashier end of the television schedules. It soon becomes clear that many of Four Screws Loose’s musical sketches are grounded on inappropriate matchings of musical styles and situations: a polite village community choir like you’ve never heard them before; a death metal band with serious rehearsal issues; a battle of the musical stars done in the style of a Pokemon game. Two sketches do stand out, however. Firstly there’s “Jeremy Kyle: The Panto”, which sees its host (a satanically dressed Richard David-Caine) and Prince Charming (possibly Conan House’s best role in the show) questioning a sluttish Cinderella (Elliot) about allegations that she’s been sleeping with Buttons (Thom Ford). Then there’s the genuinely clever retelling of the Nativity Story, “sponsored by iTunes”, which with its incredibly fast-cutting between a host of familiar songs (a hell of a copyright payment, unless they’re crossing their fingers and claiming “fair usage”) is a consistent delight.

Whatever else you can say of Four Screws Loose, speed is always of the essence; this is light, fun and entertaining stuff and they perform it well. But beyond remembering having a good time, not much of the show lingers in the memory afterwards.

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

Royal Lyceum Theatre

Mrs Puntila And Her Man Matti

★★
Traverse Theatre

W*nk Buddies

★★★
Traverse Theatre

Pride Plays

★★★★
Multiple Venues

Oor Wullie

★★★★
Oran Mor / Traverse Theatre

Fly Me To The Moon

★★★★
Platform / Traverse Theatre

The Panopticon

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Fresh from a smash hit run at the Adelaide Festival, The Screws return to Edinburgh with their fifth riotous show. Directed by Matthew Floyd Jones (Frisky and Mannish), this is a comedy show like no other, exploding with an unrivalled mix of comedy and music. ‘Simply brilliant’ **** (Comedy.co.uk). 'Rousing, fun, fast-paced ... invigorating’ **** (Chortle.co.uk). ‘Insanely talented’ ***** (FreshAir FM). ‘Impossible not to be impressed’ (Telegraph). ‘Leaves other comedy troupes sucking up their exhaust fumes’ **** (Herald). Don't miss out on this year's biggest Screw Up!

Most Popular See More

The Book of Mormon

From £20.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

From £13.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Come From Away

From £25.00

More Info

Find Tickets

SIX

From £29.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Les Miserables

From £22.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mary Poppins

From £31.00

More Info

Find Tickets