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Brighton Fringe 2018

Low Down

Brainfruit produce this family show. Guide age says tne and over but I think eight or nine-year-olds are there. Lead vocalist and head improviser Roy Hutchins on synth, aided by singer and electric fiddler Sue Bradley (Perrier winner for her work with Pookiesnackenburger), whistler and much else, Mike Mckeon and Sam Mckeon to make up the bear numbers. Till May 19th.


Can you bear it? The heat I mean. Whilst we were handed out fans the stifling went on and it was challenging to say the least to swelter to a story of Canada’s frozen north. Were at the Welly, Duke of Wellington, in a room above the pub. No lights, and all the action’s the world of Brainfruit.

Happily we’re armed up by this fireside tale of how to journey north and either faint when you meet a bear or sometimes embrace him, or her. It might be the latter because that’s the bear dancing with them, in a dress but with incisors and a very real set of paws as well as head to suggest we might just get taken in the raw. But it’s a family show and the kids enjoy the spectacle, from the front row, of being next on the menu.

So just how did the bear get through immigration we’re asked and assured all shall be revealed. There is talk of a swarm of flying ants? But then this has been created by multi-award winning comedian and director Roy Hutchins – recent winner of the ‘Best Ensemble Production’ at the Wellington Fringe for Fiery Tongues. Brainfruit’s his creation.

This new show we’re told conjures up cajun folk n’ blues on bears, beavers, bugs, and buffalos. There’s a racoon there too, but here’s a secret: it doesn’t exist because it doesn’t start with B. But then neither do you, generically. Nevertheless that racoon enjoys a great track record in distracting bears when they’re about to lunch on you. That’s worth keeping in mind when you feel like dismissing them.

Lead vocalist and head improviser Roy Hutchins on synth, aided by singer and electric fiddler Sue Bradley (Perrier winner for her work with Pookiesnackenburger), whistler and much else Mike Mckeon and Thom Mckeon – where’s he now? Are he and the bear in a dress by any chance related? Or is it just to Mike? Highly acclaimed spoken word artiste Caitlin Mckeon isn’t able to perform so the ensemble is sadly under strength this time. Not that you’d notice if you don’t know; though it must inform choices.

What these are in the enchanting, enchanted completely Ivor Cutler-ish soundscape where you go to a Deep Lake and find Deep Point village with its 396 – no, adoption papers for the male couple owning the bar says 397 inhabitants – well….

So there’s songs of lakes and firesides and bears and indeed after an impossible odyssey involving an IT consultant licked into shape by a bear, there are melancholic musings about a waterfall, and implorings to vultures not to feed on you, or drop you down in the wrong place. The music slows, the pace eddies for a reason. The key’s minor for at least ten minutes it seems.

The show deepens as it continues. It creates its momentum and its small eddies. Its very improvisational feel and invitations to join in bass lines and choruses, means each show is different. Hutchins throws out suggestions to the audience to supply them – they’re a game crowd and do so unstintingly. It’s then genuinely interactive with a few nudges.

Do come if you want charm, unpredictable choruses and weather. And where else can you see a dancing bear not even brushed backwards in the making of this show? Though overheated? Yes – you might offer the bear a pint afterwards. And make sure you offer a pie too, so you’re not it.