Saturday, 21 May 2016

Bruce Bane @ thewarren Brighton Fringe

It's May and that means Brighton is a busy old place.
As well as the Artists Open Houses every weekend throughout May, we've got the Brighton Festival and the Brighton Fringe Festival going on every day.

In previous years, we've seen some real hit-and-miss productions. But we've also seen some interesting shows - stuff that otherwise we probably wouldn't have been exposed to. With the Brighton Fringe, it's a bit of a lottery.

This year - amongst other shows - we got to see Bane
It's a four-part show, but we joined the story in part III. Luckily, a brief synopsis was played out at the start of the performance, setting the scene beautifully.

Simply put, Bane isn't just the best thing we've seen at the Fringe for a long time (if ever - although the blue-men-pushing-barrels-of-fire a few years back was pretty awesome too) it's the best performance of anything we've seen, anywhere, for many a year. It's just incredible.

Yet to describe it is to do it a massive injustice.
A single performer plays all the parts, on an empty stage. No props, no staging, no costume changes. Just one guy playing the parts. And another playing the guitar. Live.

And yet, the performance is mesmerising.
You can "see" every scene - and the performance is played out like a movie; scenes cut quickly from one to another, the plot jumps around, and yet never once are you left thinking "who's that he's doing now?" At every stage in the play, you know exactly what's going on, which character is being acted out, and where you're up to with the story (something that they can't even get right in TV shows like Midsomer Murders!)

As Bane enters the Art-Deco inspired hotel via the revolving doors, you can "see" the entire layout. When we escapes through a window, you can see (and hear) the cars whizzing past on the street below. Joe Bone not only gives every character a unique voice, but puts in a performance so that even without speaking, you know exactly who is who - individual mannerisms, facial features, even just the way he stands or walks across the stage, and you know exactly who he's playing.

And all this is accompanied by an incredible live music track. It's so good, you don't even notice it. Ratcheting up the tension with spooky arpeggios, and driving the action along with rhythmic, thumping chord sequences, Ben Roe plays throughout the entire show with a spotlight - because without it, you'd probably not even notice him!
And that's meant as a compliment.

It's only when you really listen, you realise how clever the soundtrack is.
As Bane enters a lift in the hotel, the plinky-plonky musak is perfect. As the action cuts between a scene set in the kitchen of a hotel, out back, and in the dining area, up-front, the music cleverly goes from quiet to loud, perfectly setting the scene as the action unfolds.

Bane III is the third of a four part story.
After coming out of the performance we immediately booked tickets for the fourth and final part (not only because the play was so well performed, but because the characters we so believable, we just have to find out how it all ends!). And we also gutted not to have seen the first two parts.

Imagine what a live-action Dick Tracy comic would be like.
Not like the shitty Warren Beatty/Madonna film of the late 80s. Imagine a live action comic.
With over-the-top characters. Lots of fight scenes, guns and an all-action plotline. And a flawed, private eye character as the hero. A mafia-inspired KingPin and a gang of hoodlums.

This is all that.
And it just so happens to be played out by a single actor.
But played so well, you just have to see it to understand it, let alone believe it.

So if you're in Brighton on Sunday 22nd May 2016 and can spare an hour and a half at around 4pm, get yourself along to The Warren and see Bane IV. Or check out tour dates on the website ( It deserves to be sold out every night. It's the best live theatre - probably ever.

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