Review: Coming Out Of My Cage (And I’ve Been Doing Just Fine), Pit (Vault Festival 2020)

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Martini Rating: 🍸🍸🍸🍸

Is it possible to write an entire show about a single song? More specifically about a rock anthem? And more specifically than that, about Mr Brightside, The Killers biggest hit, so adored that it hasn’t left the UK charts in 16 years. Shepard Tone say unequivocally yes because that’s exactly what they’ve done, How did it end up like this? It was only a hit, it was only a hit.

Combining karaoke, clowning, projections, interviews, videos, live instruments, lip-syncing and more. Performers Tim and Hannah navigate the universality of a tune that became ‘the song’ of the noughties. Known for uniting people whether that be on a night out, in a pub, or beyond. Using unadulterated silliness, music and storytelling to truly connect with and unify their audience, Coming Out Of My Cage (And I’ve Been Doing Just Fine) is therefore, a damn good time and has a lot going for it. From the nostalgic factor, all but one person in the room knowing the song – connecting it to one memory or more and needing no coercion to sing it triumphantly, to the engendered, uniquely un-manipulatory audience participation promoting total investment. We laugh endlessly, we answer a call from Destiny, we help Tim and Hannah out of a literal cage, we close and open our eager eyes, we sing, we clap, we dance. It’s just fun! What more could you want from a night out?

Whilst the narrative is an episodic investigation into the song, traversing it’s history and the music video, to the subsequent memes, viral videos and tangible experiences that ensued. Sewn together by an overarching plot through which Tim and Hannah (and their audience), recreate a viral video filmed in an Irish bar, where the community are singing Mr Brightside for their recently departed friend. With one man enigmatically standing on the L-shaped bar as he and his friend used to. In each scene we learn more about, and are then reminded of the bar, crowded with people, all with drinks in-hand, singing this song for a lost friend, and are led to wonder who they are and if they all know each other… So not only is the piece a tender reimagining of a real instance, but a heartwarming reminder of genuine human connection. Much inline with the unifying nature of this show and the song that inspired it, the audience are brought together by the phenomenon that is Mr Brightside, like the people in the bar were brought together in their grief, symbiotically celebrating a life with this song. How’s that for universality?

In conjunction with this, is the main investigation. Beyond the facets of memes and viral videos, the duo are led to Rotherham, ‘the north’ of all places, in pursuit of a karaoke artist known as Brampton Flowers, who they’ve watched online. Of course, hilarity ensues as they try to infiltrate the community and their curiosity grows. Who is she, why does she always sing the same song and what inspires her to dress up week-on-week? The dazzling, (some would say), costumes wittily paying homage to her dressing up and the original music video itself, (yes there is a touch of apple throwing!) This, entwined with the Irish man’s wake, conducts a bitter-sweetness in the way a single song ties these incredible people and stories together.

The work is also particularly tech-heavy, though this can be clunky at times, the relatability of the projected ‘Vlog content’ from Rotherham, or displayed facebook conversations/stalking sessions and layers of endless memes are completely worth it. We are also total suckers for puns and you can be sure that this show contains plenty of cleverly-timed gags, the perfect homage to the meme-community spawned from Mr Brightside. Whilst the vastitude of instruments played remind us, not only of how talented the pair are – referring to the endless covers of the song that can be found online, but also of how this is a piece ultimately about music and that music has an unimaginably powerful way of bringing people together. In a show about unity, an EU flag fading into the distance didn’t go awry, making a sharp, fleeting and perhaps too soon jab at Brexit. Nonetheless, Coming Out Of My Cage (And I’ve Been Doing Just Fine) is a much needed antidote to the February Blues, (if that’s a thing, it’s a thing now!)

Click here to book your tickets and don’t forget to sing your heart out.

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