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Brighton Fringe 2009

Low Down

 “Bruce Bane is a hired hand, working his way through the city”. In this film noir parody, writer and performer, Joe Bone, performs all the characters, creates the sound effects and scenery with his body, voice, and an accompanying soundtrack (played live) by Ben Roe in an outstanding one-man performance from Whitebone Productions.


This production has it all: payoffs and pistols, hired killers, dream sequences, motorbike chases, gory death scenes, vats of acid and, of course, a bad guy seeking revenge. And Joe Bone does it all – voices, faces, characters (male and female, young and old), he becomes the set, the sound effects, and even the movie subtitles. And he does it all with full-on, never-losing-it-for-a-second, precision, energy and ability. It’s a master class in one person performance.

Bane is a cleverly plotted tale of revenge with an only mildly likeable hero who is rather free with his weapon (in several senses of that word), who invites us into his thriller world of shadows, with, of course, a suitably sinister bad guy with a long memory lurking in the background. All the ingredients of film noir are there. The laughter mingles with some genuinely disturbing moments as well.

Bane plays his male characters with a Jim-Henson like low growl (which in the early part of the show made some the characters sound just a bit samey), but he picks out physical details and gestures in each so well that we are soon inhabiting his world with him, running along his dark streets, furtively entering back rooms filled with menace and suspense, and even sharing a motorbike ride through city streets (all created by Joe Bone’s excellent theatre skills). 

The performance is filled with physical and vocal set pieces played to almost perfection, and what really adds to the atmosphere and originality of Bane is the live music soundtrack, played so impressively by Ben Roe. In Bane, we have a story that is not subservient to the fine performance, but accompanies it, enriches it, we want to know what is going to happen, and there is a suitable build up to a final confrontation between Bane and his nemesis in the final ten minutes.

There’s an opportunity for this production to explore even further its parody of the genre, yet what we have here is a performer who makes it all look natural, who packs a comedy punch both physically and verbally, who makes us draw breath, who makes us laugh, who made us squirm a few times, and who has crafted an hour-long show that, like its central hero, Bane, wastes no time and takes no prisoners.