The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band Changed My Life Forever – October 2008

6/10

By Patrick Prior

Directed by Jim Dunk

Company: Isosceles

Venue: Mill Studio

Date: Friday 3rd October 2008

What a title! With a name like that, we just had to see this one, and after seeing such a gem last week, I had to make sure my expectations weren’t too high tonight.

Two guys turn up for an audition for a tour of tribute acts for one-hit wonders of the 60s. Eric, already at the place, is warming up on his keyboard when Bob arrives and starts identifying the songs in so much detail that it’s clear he’s something of a nerd. At first he and Eric don’t hit it off, but as time passes, and the rest of Eric’s band don’t turn up, they start singing some of the old hits, to fit in with their conversation, and the ice is broken.

Bob intends to become a world-wide Viv Stanshall impersonator. He’s the BDDDB’s greatest fan, and when he got a redundancy payoff after nearly thirty years in the same job, he decided to use the money to launch his new career. His wife reckoned the money would be better spent on starting up their own business, so they went their separate ways, his ex taking half of everything, including the redundancy money. He’s now living with his mother in her council flat, and giving informal performances in her  sitting room.

Eric’s been rocking for many years, never quite making it into a successful band, though he claims that he was very nearly one of the Dreamers (as in Freddie and). He’s on his third marriage, and I wondered if there was some connection between his band not turning up and his wife being home alone. To be fair, he had had a row with the band the night before – artistic differences – so it may be simpler than it looked. Bob has been making some phone calls and just before the interval he received one which was clearly giving him bad news – I suspect he’s not long for the tribute industry. With Eric off getting them coffee from a nearby café, the first half ends with Bob carefully removing his blond wig, so that he can bury his head in his hands and have a good cry.

The second half starts with Eric arriving back with the coffee and finding Bob in this state. He’s concerned for him, but Bob keeps insisting he’s alright, as men do, and puts it down to nerves about the audition. Eric tries to help by giving him a shot of whisky, and reckons that Bob still hasn’t got over losing his wife, Juliet – cue for song. Then Eric gets a phone call from his band, and isn’t happy. We can guess what’s happened. The two men keep on at each other until all is revealed. Bob has prostate cancer, and Eric’s band has given him the sack. To fulfil Bob’s ambition to leave something that will live on after his death, something that will show the world he existed, Eric suggests that he film Bob doing his Viv Stanshall routine, and then he can put it on the internet for everyone to see for a long, long time. This cheers Bob up, and they finish with a rousing rendition of Urban Spaceman, to celebrate.

This was another lovely piece, with lots of humour, good music (for the most part – I defy anyone to cover My Boy Lollipop successfully), and some moving moments, though not enough to give me the sniffles. Apparently these actors spend their time touring a number of productions, and they put on whichever show the venue wants to see. Tonight was only the second time they’d performed this one, which accounts for some slightly fluffed lines and minor hesitations. (Steve picked up this info during the interval, while the director was chatting to someone else.) Still, it was an enjoyable evening, and I’d certainly be happy to see their stuff again.

© 2008 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me

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