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