An Audience with Michael Brunström and the Silly Billies
10th March 2017
Friday Evening saw me at the final show in the Basement of Alphabetti Theatre. Coming straight from work (a goodly trek up the A19 from Hartlepool) I arrived early (probably a good thing as within 20 mins the little bar was full to bursting).
As I entered the bar a very tall man in tights, feathers and a bird mask was greeting and chatting with people. Unfortunately the resident hound was not quite impressed with this large feathered friend and proceeded to see him off at every opportunity, until he was taken out in disgrace (the dog, that is, not the birdman).
I wasn't sure what to expect from the evening - I'd read the press release, and been told(warned) that it would be off the wall. I might hate it, or I might love it. All I knew at that point was the guy in feathers and tights had better legs than me.
As it transpires this scene in the bar was a perfect set up for what was about to transpire on stage. (They should make the dog part of the show...)
The Silly Billies are a couple of mad guys with an equally insane sense of humour. Michael Brunström is equally crazy but a tad, just a tad mind, more subtle). Over the best part of two hours we saw Giant babies, Stirrups v Vitamin A elections, Mary Quant whaling, the Birth of Parsley, a tour of Madchester, and some very sinister Venga Boys, to name just a few.
The audience laughed, sometimes in unexpected places, they joined in sometimes voluntarily with enthusiasm, sometimes not quite so keenly but always with good humour. Audience participation is key to the success, had the audience not been engaged then we'd have had three guys on stage acting the fool in silly costumes.
Imagine Monty Python meets Reeves and Mortimer with a bit of the Goons thrown in. This sketch show was strange, it was bizarre, it was hysterical. It takes hold of the establishment and shakes it by the balls - under the buffoonery there is some serious social and political comment. I'm not sure they'll appreciate that idea getting out though. Pop culture, politics, gentrification, are all topics that are placed under the Order of the Silly Billiy's microscope. What it reveals is weirdly and terrifyingly funny.
Best bit for me? The cockney market calls. Excellent. Classic pointlessly insane humour. It shouldn't have been funny, but it was.
This was a fitting finale for the end of the Alphabetti basement. Hopefully we'll be seeing more such in a new venue soon.
If you like your comedy strange, interactive and at times incomprehensible, watch out for more of the Silly Billies and Michael Brunström.