Most agree that true human civilisation began with the development of agricultural systems. The ability to form permanent communities larger than nomadic tribes relied upon the ability to cultivate larger quantities of crops and livestock for consumption. Another no less essential milestone that occurred during this flourishing of agriculture is the development of the carbonated alcoholic liquid that results when barley is fermented with yeast and flavoured with hops: beer.
A Brief History of Beer, by performers William Glenn and Trish Parry, seeks to educate audiences of the long and tumultuous history of the oldest alcoholic beverage in the world. Travelling through time in the spaceship, Zythos (the Egyptian word for beer), which is apparently only powered through the simultaneous quaffing of said beer by both performers and audience, they describe with both humour and genuine passion the history of the amber nectar.
Beginning with an adorable re-enactment of the discovery of the methodology for creating beer, they follow the beverage's story through human history: from the Temple of Nincassi, where the faithful would brew as a sign of devotion, to the Irish patron saint of brewers, Saint Brigid, and to the Great London Beer Flood, to name a few.
Trish and William have an enjoyable dynamic that deftly balances fascinating beer facts with approachable humour. The performance also encourages some audience participation beyond the collective beer imbibing, the duo leading us in irreverent arm-waving and yelling. They've also created a number of absurdly hilarious beer-themed covers to punctuate the history lessons, with a personal favourite being the adapted Santana classic, "Beer Magic Woman".
Beyond the mix of history and humour, it's very apparent that both performers are incredibly passionate about the brewing industry – decrying the Prohibition era, mourning the loss of diverse brewing operations, championing the importance of women's involvement throughout beer's history, and even recollecting the 19th Century state beers of Australia.
A Brief History of Beer is a hilarious romp through the history of mankind's fondest drink, additionally providing the audience with something to 'brewed' upon.
I'll let myself out.
For show times and to book tickets, see the Fringe guide.