Bruce Bane is back, this time for a double bill of his impressive one-man shows Bane and Bane 2 in attempt to break the world record for ‘Most Characters Performed in a One Man Show’. While we have reviewed Joe Bone’s one-man performances before, I used the opportunity to see the pieces that have made him a star, back to back, to see if an entire evening of his efforts is as riveting as seeing them one by one: the answer is still an unequivocal yes. This is one of the funniest one-man shows you will ever see, excellently performed and written, and now the (tentative) proud holder of a world record – if you haven’t seen a Bane show before, watch this one (which is both of them)!
Bruce Bane is a gun for hire who gets the job done and takes no prisoners – the classic noir hero, he faces off against any number of pulp villains in his adventures, making the world a safer place one bullet at a time.
Brought to life by Joe Bone, along with every other character in Bruce Bane’s world, this show has to be seen to be believed – one man bounds around stage, performing every character and situation in these often action-packed stories, and at no point does your belief or enjoyment falter. This is all down to Joe Bone’s exceptional writing and performance – everything bar the evocative guitar is his work, and it is excellent indeed: he has found a metier in which his sometimes abstruse humour and penchant for silly voices fit perfectly into the context of his show, which is always exciting to watch – you can’t quite shake the feeling that you are watching a consummate professional at work.
The plots of Bane 1 and 2 are largely inconsequential – more a set-up for a collection of jokes than anything else, although this is by no means a criticism – there is enough of an arc to follow and enjoy every B movie parody made without forgetting why the show is happening. The second part does seem to find it harder to draw you back to the plot, but there is a sense of difficult second film about it – trying to develop the character and still make the plot work. The trick now will be to tie all of these elements together in part 3, which has been commissioned by and will be performed at the Brighton Festival this year.
All plot details aside, this is a comedy show, and the jokes not only come thick and fast, they are also a brilliant mixture of hugely inventive and classic B movie trash – for example, when a character has 3 fingers and a thumb removed, we laugh at the obvious finger gag (which one is left, hmm?), but also marvel at the fact that it becomes a way to identify a character, to lead us through a scenario and keep the story clear without need for words. Jokes aside, this is also an excellent example of a show that needs no explanation – Bone doesn’t grasp for a voice-over or anything so trite – every line is a character, every moment he is leaping from character to character, and yet the story is always clear – a show of this detail never leaving one moment of confusion is pretty impressive stuff. I personally found that Bane 2 relied too much on dream sequences, which made it ever so slightly harder to follow, but I think that’s more personal taste.
In the end, this show impresses on all fronts – Bone showcases all of his abilities and draws the entire audience along for a great ride. In this particular case, doing both shows back to back just enhanced the experience, allowing for some in-jokes and what felt like a more streamlined plot – now we have to wait and see if Bone holds the new world record for his show, and whether Bane 3 is the finale we’ve all been waiting for.