Silly Boys – Two Punks and a Tandem

I’m not a punk. I’m not rebellious. I took my seat fifteen minutes early for Silly Boys’ opening night of their latest show, and spent a moment admiring their simple, slightly haphazard looking set. In the centre, a step-ladder and white screen, debris strewn in front, and surrounded by lighting stands held together with hastily wound electrical tape, cables exposed. If this was punk, I liked it.

A clatter from the back of the auditorium, the drumming of baking trays. From here, Seamas Carey and Callum Mitchell took hold of the space, grabbed their audience, and gave neither up until they were finished.

It’s a fascinating piece, the true story of two punks fundraising for a centre for the unemployed in Penzance, 1985. The pair are a classic double-act, working wonderfully together to drive (or pedal) the story along. Carey’s Leigh is great to watch, occasionally simple-minded, over-mothered, but always charming and charismatic. Likewise, Mitchell’s Mitch is perfectly pitched: passionate, driven, but armed with dry ripostes for every situation this lovable pairing find themselves in. The Silly Boys complement one another perfectly on stage, their shared understanding refined by years of collaboration.

We had our two punks, now where was the tandem? Soon, it was wheeled out, a mimed bicycle. I was concerned, surely this show had to have a bike? My fears were immediately allayed, as utterly hypnotic bum-wiggling created the finest tandem I have ever seen. The physical comedy across the piece was excellent, with wonderfully inventive use of props and inspired sleight of hand. The scenes are superbly crafted by director Jim Carey, though perhaps, at points, a little longer than they needed to be.

It couldn’t be a punk show without music, and Carey’s simple three-chord punk line is a great soundtrack (along with perfectly chosen existing songs) to the piece. These punks can sing about anything to Carey’s rip-roaring refrain, and while it was often about tea or where our heroes had arranged to meet, it neatly punctuated the story, and had us all joining in. While the music really drove the story forwards, I had slight reservations about the sound design across the piece, with the soundscapes occasionally feeling slightly unfinished. Ridiculously, they only felt incomplete because the audio was otherwise accurate throughout, so when something was missing, you really noticed.

Silly Boys have created a real gem of a show: skillfully written, excellently performed, with a myriad of visually stimulating scenes. The show is an eclectic blend of styles, sights and sounds, in a perfect punk performance. I don’t doubt that the show will be refined and polished over the next few weeks, and it will be simply unmissable at The Acorn on 3rd April. Give Penzance a chance.

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