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Bonny Boys are Few - Brighton Fringe review 2014 by Sarah Agnew

Bonny Boys are Few, Company: Enormous Yes
Venue: The Old Courtroom, Category: Theatre
8-11 May 19:45 £10 (£8) [1hr] Plus booking fee

There are yarns and then there are yarns.  Bonny Boys are Few was certainly some tale, encompassing
a time-travelling conquistador, a misery-eating eel, and a journey from Peru to Earth’s end via a shut door in Dublin.
Across a screen at the back a flickering and faded film of a journey in a car along headland played on repeat. I loved how the rolling images seemed to give the play depth and it worked really well at reinforcing the themes of the play although perhaps it would have worked better if the colours had been more vivid.

Michael John O’Neill appeared before us dressed as a conquistador and the musical play began with part of a song about love and the scarcity of bonny boys, sung by Claire Willoughby.  Then Michael John's quest to speak to his father begins, interjected by himself and members of the cast on stage.

We move into the story of the conquistador, one of shipwreck, love and loss upon the coast of Northern Ireland during the time when ships from the Spanish Armada were shipwrecked along Ireland's coast.

Next we meet the Uncle that Michael John goes to visit, who disappears all day leaving Michael John alone in a remote house.  Michael John follows him and discovers fantastical adventures, which he recounts with energy and an immediacy that works really well.

Meanwhile we find out Claire the singer, is the moon who has been harnessed to the earth for all eternity and seeks everlasting misery of mankind.  She falls into a fit and lies on the floor before jumping up and pouncing on Michael John and pummelling him, creating a comical juxtaposition between folk lore and physical theatre.

Throughout there are songs by Chris McAteer and Matt Reganwere which were good but for me seemed to be drowned out by the synthesizer when it was used.  Michael John is a great story teller and I loved the fantastical adventures although it also felt a bit rough around the edges. The journey to the Earth's end via a shut door in Dublin (I think I missed that part) for me needed to be clearer or longer to make a better impact.

Should you go see it? Yes! Enormous Yes are challenging the conventions of play-acting, mixing it up with different media and merging fact and fiction. This is what the Fringe is about, emerging talent.

Sarah Agnew - follow on Twitter @IrishAggers

Bonny Boys are Few

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