A tough act

Joseph bone takes on not one, but 40 char­ac­ters on a bare stage.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - ARTS - By ROUWEN LIN en­ter­tain­ment@thes­tar.com.my

I’M a hired hand that gets the job done. I don’t waste time, and I take no pris­on­ers.” Meet Bruce Bane, a gruff, tough hit­man who fre­quents the murky streets and dark al­leys of a fic­tional city. He’s out to find the man who is try­ing to kill him, and he makes his own rules while he’s at it.

And the per­son play­ing him – who also cre­ated him – says that he was “so ner­vous” the first time play­ing Bane that he “was al­most sick”.

Ac­tor/writer Joseph Bone, who hails from the Isle of Wight, Eng­land’s largest is­land, wrote and staged the one-hour pro­duc­tion called Bane: Some­one’s Go­ing To Pay in 2009.

“He’s a com­plex man for sure!” he says of Bane in an e-mail in­ter­view while on tour in Sin­ga­pore and In­dia.

“You cer­tainly wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of him and you cer­tainly wouldn’t want him com­ing af­ter you. That said, on the in­side, there’s a vul­ner­a­bil­ity about him and a softer side that he’s per­haps afraid to let out.”

The show has no props and no set, which means it can be per­formed prac­ti­cally any­where. And it has been – every­where from mu­sic fes­ti­vals and fire­sides to shop­ping cen­tres and even the woods.

“All we need is a few me­tres of space and a stool for Ben to sit on,” says Bone, who de­scribes the show as “a movie played out on stage by one man and one mu­si­cian” – the mu­si­cian be­ing Ben Roe, on gui­tar.

“Mu­sic is ab­so­lutely cru­cial to the show. I be­gan Bane with­out mu­sic, do­ing 10-minute slots and sketches in the Bane world. It was good, but I knew there was some­thing miss­ing,” he re­calls.

When Bone de­cided to de­velop the hour­long piece into what it is to­day, he called up Roe, who agreed to sound­track it.

“It im­proved it no end. But the real coup was Ben’s nat­u­ral dra­maturgy skills, and abil­ity to add much more than just the sound­track. It was a lucky com­bi­na­tion, and we’ve known each other since school so there’s a real un­der­stand­ing there,” says Bone.

The in­spi­ra­tion for Bane, now an award­win­ning tril­ogy with a fourth in­stal­ment in the works, was Bone’s love af­fair with movies.

“All dif­fer­ent types,” the 30-year-old says when asked what gen­res he likes, shar­ing that he watched a lot of film noir while he was cre­at­ing Bane. But he also grew up in the 1980s with films like Back To The Fu­ture, Die Hard and the Naked Gun films, so al­though Bane is pinned in noir, Bone is quick to point out that its cin­e­matic in­flu­ences are wide and in­cludes broad strokes of com­edy.

“It’s a crime par­ody, bor­row­ing heav­ily from Hol­ly­wood cin­ema – from clas­sic film noir to 1980s ac­tion block­busters. I had no idea it would work, but thank­fully it did, and it’s taken me around the world and launched my ca­reer.”

With Aus­tralia and Brazil next on the list, Bone sure is mak­ing his mark around the world with Bane.

Well, Bane and some 40 other char­ac­ters. And that’s just in the first show, which is the one re­vis­it­ing Malaysia this time. Bane: Some­one’s Go­ing To Pay was pre­vi­ously staged at PJ Live Arts last year, fol­lowed by Bane 3: Wel­come To Sun­nyview, at the Kakiseni Fes­ti­val, also last year.

Of his im­pres­sive role-switch­ing reper­toire, Bone says that the big­gest chal­lenge is mak­ing sure that the au­di­ence doesn’t get lost: “Bane is a very phys­i­cal piece, us­ing a lot of mime and ac­tion. I try to make each char­ac­ter dis­tinct with vo­cals and phys­i­cally, so the story can shine through and people’s imag­i­na­tion can come to life.”

As to what an au­di­ence would take away from the per­for­mance, Bone says dif­fer­ent people take dif­fer­ent things from it: “There’s lots of movie ref­er­ence pep­pered through­out, so film geeks cer­tainly en­joy that as­pect. Es­sen­tially, though, it’s a com­edy and that’s prob­a­bly the main ap­peal. It doesn’t take it­self too se­ri­ously and, hope­fully, people leave the theatre feel­ing they’ve been thor­oughly en­ter­tained for an hour,” says Bone.

When asked which as­pect of Bane’s per­son­al­ity he finds the most in­trigu­ing, Bone sin­gles out Bane’s self-as­sured­ness: “I’m ner­vous and un­sure as a per­son, so some­one that knows what they want is both in­trigu­ing and at­trac­tive to me!”

With Bane win­ning mul­ti­ple awards, in­clud­ing a Fringe Re­view Out­stand­ing Theatre Award at the Ed­in­burgh Fringe Fes­ti­val, it sure looks like Bone isn’t the only one who thinks so.

Bane: Some­one’s Go­ing To Pay is on at the Theatre Lounge Cafe (B1-3A, Plaza Da­mas 3, No. 63 Jalan Sri Har­ta­mas 1, Sri Har­ta­mas, Kuala Lumpur) from to­mor­row to Feb 23 at 9pm. Cover charge is RM100. For more in­for­ma­tion call 012-236 9100 or 03-6211 3000 or go to the­atrelounge­cafe.com.

Man of many faces: Joseph bone (left) plays bruce bane as well as some 40 other char­ac­ters in bane1; he is ac­com­pa­nied on stage by ben roe on gui­tar.

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