Bygone depicts the eccentric gentlemen’s apocalypse. If they made a sequel to Withnail and I, setting it in a dystopian future wherein the booze has long since ran out, their own livers fermenting to keep them insane, it might look a little like this. Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann, they ain’t, but there’s no doubt that Jonnie Bayfield (writer and actor - Brandy) and Russel Chadwick (actor - Tynan) are two very multi-talented thespians and a duo to be reckoned with.
Brandy and Tynan, two desperate eccentrics, confined to their dilapidated home for unspecified reasons, fester an obsessive relationship with recording the past and the present but fail to bring back anything other than animosity and disappointment. These moments are hardly the sum total of the play but is an understandable choice for a title as, in these scenes, we find some of the few openings into what is an incredibly duplicitous and unreliable reality.
Bygone, at times, suffers from a misplaced energy - beats are unrecognised, stakes can be a little unclear - and in this wordy work, the audience can become a little lost when the production has the power to engross. At times, the world created can be so absurd as to be dull or overly alienating but some of Bayfield’s touches give the play a charming relatability, setting it apart from being a No Exit knock-off. For instance, Brandy and Tynan’s attempts to write an epic to tell future generations/species about the origins of life is a wonderful piece of thoughtful dark comedy and though it may not revolutionise Western thought, it makes for an absorbing and truthful punctuation in a play that could run away with itself in its absurd rambling.
Though this script could do with some fine-tuning to avoid paths already well-trodden, the production has come together wonderfully in the hands of Bayfield and Chadwick, both as proficient onstage as they are off. Though slow to start, Bygone settles down to become a wholly enthralling experience.