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Ballad of Backbone Joe

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
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Pleasance Courtyard
4-29 August, 14:35

Australian trio Suitcase Royale use live music, clowning and puppetry, all wrapped up in film noir pastiche, to tell the story of the murder of Messy Dimes Dan, abattoir owner and boxing manager.

There are a lot of nice ideas here, including some inventive use of props and sound effects, but self-indulgent performances from all three actors undermine the potential of these devices. Their frequent forays out of character may earn them cheap laughs, but ultimately the show’s momentum suffers and the comedy descends into an unfunny unruliness.

The live music (drums, double bass, guitar and harmonica) is fantastic when it happens, but too often the underscoring and sound effects are taken care of with recorded music instead. This trio are clearly a talented bunch, but Ballad of Backbone Joe feels like an entertaining piece of theatre stifled by its own silliness.


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