Rebranding Beelzebub

For a man whose spoken word revolves around Satan and who has chosen the dingiest, darkest basement of The Banshee Labyrinth for his latest show, Rebranding Beelzebub, Tim Ralphs isn’t all that scary. In fact, his pony-tailed curly black hair and black silk bow tie make him look more like a well-groomed cocker spaniel than a storytelling satanist.

As Ralphs builds to a thunderous climax, it’s hard not to be impressed by this storyteller’s ingenuity.

Storytelling isn’t a particularly well-known genre. Cooler than a poetry reading but without the hipster status of spoken word, storytelling consists of a structured, rehearsed but not rigidly scripted, usually single story. Ralphs’ unravels his yarn, Theseus-like, guiding his audience through an elaborate narrative maze. This task, however, requires sustained concentration from both storyteller and his listeners, a fact inevitably hampered by the gig’s setting in a noisy pub.

It is immediately apparent that Ralphs can work an audience, warming up with a short, sweet story that has the ability to make root vegetables seem interesting. The main event, however, is far darker than its overture, refashioning the Faust narrative with a glinting playfulness. Yet this middle section of Ralphs’ set is also the bumpiest ride, forcing the audience to the cling on for dear life or risk being thrown off the narrative wagon. At this point, a handful of audience members took their cue to leave.

If you make it past this rough patch, however, the payback is considerable. As Ralphs builds to a thunderous climax, it’s hard not to be impressed by this storyteller’s ingenuity, which combines crowd-pleasing with not-giving-a-shit. Standing there in his cummerbund and Jesus sandals, Ralphs is a paradigm of unapologetic nerd-dom. Rebranding Beelzebub is a fluent example of a genre that has been upcycled for the present day.

Reviews by Rivkah Brown

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★★★★
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★★★★★
Banshee Labyrinth

Rebranding Beelzebub

★★★
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★★★★
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Performances

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The Blurb

From Young Storyteller of the Year in 2007 to a British Award for Storytelling Excellence in 2012, Tim Ralphs is one of the most innovative talents on the UK storytelling scene. In Rebranding Beelzebub he shines a spotlight on Him Downstairs as he re-imagines traditional devil stories stitched into new skin. This grand collection spans supermarket stalls, urban sprawls, drunken preachers and widow’s sons. Darkly humorous with disturbing turns. A PBH's Free Fringe show - pay what you think the devil is due!

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