Comedy reviews: The Beta Males in… The Space Race, Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33)

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CONFIRMING their status as one of the best and most ambitious of the UK’s emerging sketch troupes, The Space Race is yet another entertaining B-movie homage from The Beta Males.

The Beta Males in… The Space Race

Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33)

Star rating: * * *

In an alternative 1969, in a rural village, the quartet present a secret space mission to the moon that will retain Britain’s position as a superpower and sustain a lifestyle of swinging sexism for all.

With the addition of witty video inserts punctuating the live tomfoolery, there’s much to admire and enjoy here, including: a brilliant James Bond pastiche in which a spy compromises national security with his incapacity to be a cold-blooded seducer; a barbershop rendition of extraordinary rendition; and a scientist warble-tortured into weaponising his breakthrough.

There’s some lovely pastoral scene-setting, some cracking gags and sly allusions dotted throughout the script and the performances are top-hole once again, showcasing knockabout, quintessentially British derring-do, with excellent comic timing displayed by all.

It’s never as tightly plotted as 2011’s unstoppable The Train Job, and a failure to pull together a couple of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers and Apollo 13 threads towards the end ensures it doesn’t cohere as satisfyingly.

• Until 27 August. Today 5:45pm.