Brighton Fringe 2008
The Haunted Moustache
Venue: Upstairs at the Three and Ten
Festival: Brighton Fringe
David Bramwell tells the story of the moustache he inherits and sets out on a journey of inner and outer discovery in an often touching, sometimes hilarious, and mostly genius piece of story-theatre.
Oddfellow’s auction of his famous trademark moustache was an altruistic gesture aimed at saving an accordionist from "crippling gambling debts." Marty’s strategy to rescue David Bramwell from the clutches of a jealous, possessed moustache was a similar act of friendship. Both Oddfellow and Marty are no longer with us – Marty a recent loss to the town, many will know of him as a local character, a sandled, Greenwich Village Shaman who, according to Mr Bramwell, had spent so long in England that he actually sounded like an Englshman doing a bad impression of a New Yorker.
This is a one-man story of real characters and 74% real happenings; a sincerely told piece of story theatre, directed with just the right touch by Nicky Haydn. David is not an actor by vocation but he is a fine stage performer when it comes to telling a story that takes us from "Lincolnshire’s answer to Glastonbury", Woodland Spa, and it’s still-operating cinema (with genuine antique films and organist-filled intermission), through Scunthorpe, Coventry and finally to Brighton, home of the Bubblegum Factory, The Basement, and infamous modern freak show, The Zincbar, a town where David came for a day and ended up "staying for a life time". As you do.
A freak show at the end of the century, and a freakshow in the previous century of Victoriana. These are the two ends of this narrative storyline which Bramwell joins together with a script that is a piece of writing genius and a performance that doesn’t always sit comfortably as either theatre or storytelling. However, it still manages to hold the audience in thrall, they applaud spontaneous set pieces, and are simply and utterly engaged with the story. This show was award-winning potential.
Ambrose Oddfellow, and Bramwell”s Aunt Sylvia. What is the connection? Sylvia leaves him a moustache framed in a box. A chain of events unfolds that leads Mr Bramwell to seek out its source and to set out on a Dan-Brown-esque journey "back to the source" to discover whether the moustache he has inherited is the very same as the one once worn by legendary, cultish, shadowy Ambrose, founder of the Independent Order of Oddfellows.
I’ve rarely laughed so much. Bramwell truly brought each character to life. You don’t have to have lived in Brighton to become endeared by Dave Suit, the Saltdean Seancers, and even the marvelous Manhattan ex-pat Marty.
This is a touching two-acter that never loses momentum or interest. Such fabulous material crafted into a piece that sometimes runs ahead of even the perfomer himself. Bramwell has created a story that is bigger than he, for it encompases the great Drako, who modeled for Dali, and even Genesis P. Orridge himself. Intelligent, witty, literary and well observed, the time flew. What hold does the inherited moustache hold over David Bramwell?
This is a five star show to watch more than once.