Ride of the Bluebottles

Fri 17th – Sat 25th August 2012

reviews

Ellen Smyth

at 16:01 on 17th Aug 2012

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The Stone Roses' 'I Am the Resurrection' has to be the ultimate indie anthem. So even as you’re taking a seat before ‘The Ride of The Bluebottles’ begins, the background music is busy setting the scene. And just in case you’re still not sure what genre these lads are going for, Joe Strummer's face sits centre stage on the front cover of an NME magazine with the caption, “Don’t write slogans. Write truths.” Even their dead cat – Foucault – shares its name with a French social theorist and philosopher. So, it’s official: these guys are deep.

The plot is simple (nothing much happens), but it’s laugh-out-loud funny. For the most part it is four large egos bantering and brawling backstage of their upcoming gig. The quartet's struggle to become lyrical daemons has disastrous, often hilarious and sometimes poignant consequences. And all in one small Green Room. There we find sensitive gentleman George and straight-talking Pete; poor old Syd is ‘The Creative One’ trying to paint them in a new colour amid baggies and pills. And then there's Darryl, who can’t help but get a little carried away - sometimes with the glory, and always with the girls.

If ‘The Ride of the Bluebottles’ were a film it might be a parody of Sam Taylor-Wood's ‘Nowhere Boy.’ Or thereabouts. It introduces us to four members of a failing band who have their sights set on fame achieved by the likes of John Lennon and Bob Dylan. Or maybe the godfather of cool, Woody Guthrie. The idea that The Bluebottles are a failing band is pretty obvious and since they don’t commit to actually showing us just how bad they are, I’m not sure how necessary the recorded sounds of “Boo! F**k you!” chants are from their fake audience. It could probably be left to the imagination.

‘The Ride of The Bluebottles’ is a satirical, ridiculing comedy about struggling bands surviving on the edge of an indie kingdom. It’s a funny, derisive play so why not look the part? So, more comic effect could be made of the costume. Think jeans so tight they cut off circulation, pointy black shoes, checked shirts buttoned up to the neck and 4 x black thick-rimmed glasses and you’d be half-way there. But perhaps their way is more subtle. Understated is cool, right?

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Jessica Reid

at 11:08 on 18th Aug 2012

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'The Ride of The Bluebottles' is a show about the demise of the band, The Bluebottles. It is a very interesting concept for a play to be based upon, as so many bands are more renowned for their inter-band politics than for their music. Perhaps, however it would be more interesting to have documented a real band’s demise as nothing particularly scandalous or exciting seemed to occur within this group.

The script itself is rather slow and there is little in the way of action – the play would generally be better if it were 20 minutes shorter as there are some sections that drag. However, there are also some extremely witty lines and clever musical references. I did find it peculiar that a show about music lacked much actual music, especially as there were moments where the intended emotional response would have been heightened by some musical underscoring, such as in the fights. I also found the concert disappointing. As we are told so much about the band, it is unsatisfying to never actually hear them play.

The blocking is bad. Sometimes they stand directly in a line, obscuring the line of vision for the audience. Also, for a venue with non-tiered seating, it is problematic to have so much of the action occurring on the floor. Aside from this, the acting is of a good standard considering how clichéd and clumsy some of the dialogue is. This includes an excessive amount of swearing, which seems to be brandished about like evidence to confirm that they are a proper band – along with numerous references to drugs and sex with groupies. None of the characters really had a chance to develop, which meant the actors barely alter emotionally throughout the play: there is a lot of hysteria but it seems quite superficial.

The moments of black comedy are the best. They really perform the dark humour well and it is a shame there is not more of it. There are some hilarious sections like the Moneytree conversation, the "aggressive hugging" and the consequences of opening the sack. However, this show never really evolves into a play of clarity. Sometimes it seems like a satire but other times like a drama or even a documentary.

Overall I enjoyed watching 'The Ride of The Bluebottles' but it lacked punch.

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