Monday, 3 March 2014

Joe Bone: A sweet bruiser

Double trouble: While Joe Bone (left) dodges bullets and explosions, Ben Roe does his magic on the guitar.

Double trouble: While Joe Bone (left) dodges bullets and explosions, Ben Roe does his magic on the guitar.

Joe Bone is a hitman, a mad scientist, a poisoned dart in his thigh ... and everything in between.

REALLY? Forty characters played by one man? With no props or costume change?

I was sceptical.

But barely 10 minutes into the show, I was sold. In Bane: Someone’s Going To Pay, the first in the Bruce Bane series, British writer/performer Joe Bone takes on the impressive list of characters single-handedly on stage, with sidekick Ben Roe on guitar providing the music.

Bane, the tough-talking, decisive and woman-loving (or at least, women love him – a lot) protagonist, is a hitman who now has someone after him. He has to get to the bottom of this mystery and find this person before this person kills him.

And boy, is it one heck of an action-packed ride. Bone switches effortlessly from hero to bad guy to prostitute to mad scientist who melds his wife’s brains with a laboratory rat’s.

The script is witty, the performance polished. The absurdities come hard and fast, often when you least expect it to, and Bone manages to surprise and delight throughout the show with cleverly placed clichés and movie references, unexpected turn of events and wonderfully eccentric characters.

And he doesn’t just take on people and accents; he is also the creaking door, the answering machine, the heavy door-knocker, the radio, bullets, a lit cigarette ... It’s almost exhausting to watch – but in a good way.

The Theatre Lounge Cafe in Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur, comfortably housing a curious crowd on the night, was perfect for such an act.

Bane: Someone’s Going To Pay played at the experimental events venue from Feb 21-23.

It is in such a small, intimate space that Bane really shines; when you can see every grimace Bone makes, hear every breath he takes, catch every drop of sweat that drips off his nose.

The live music accompaniment by Roe complemented the act perfectly. It heightened the drama, upped the dramatics and generally made the act bigger! Better! Bolder!

And it also knew when to fall silent and let Bane and company take centre stage.

Bone shared in an earlier interview with this writer that the show is essentially a movie played out on stage, and I have to concur that this comes through quite well, particularly in the second half of the show.

The scene changes, slow-mo and quirky sound effects work well, and Bane’s narratives clearly shows a love for details and hyperbole. We don’t just learn that a man is shot thrice; we know that he gets it “twice in the pancreas and once in the a**”. We also learn that a woman has a “wonderful smile, great a**, bad breath”.

And when Bane declares, “The wind whipped up leaves around me – it was very dramatic”, it is a simple line that in the right hands, is intensely serious, absurd and funny, all at once.

And Bone certainly has the right hands, thankfully, for the script he wrote.

That night, for a little over an hour, he brought us on an exhilarating journey in the world of Bane.

We followed him down dark alleys, dodgy stairwells and fast car chases. We watched as he performed a Johnny Cash song on stage with poison coursing through his veins. We stood by as he shot at people – never once, always twice or thrice.

With some 40 characters – I didn’t keep count, but let’s just take the actor’s word for it, though I must say it certainly felt like more than that – this is a show that demands a fair bit of physical work from Bone, who was kept on his toes (and sometimes on his knees, or flat on the ground) throughout.

The talented actor/writer is currently working on Part 4 of the Bane series.

I say bring it on. And bring it here.

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle , joe bone , bruce bane , bane , theatre lounge cafe


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