Bonny Boys are Few
  • By Guy Wah
  • |
  • 12th May 2014
  • |
  • ★★★★

Bonny Boys are Few is a multimedia storytelling performance of wonderful depth and colour. Featuring live music, a video backdrop and minimal staging, two tales set in contrasting timelines intertwine until they culminate in one direction at the end of time.

This is an ambitious piece of theatre and Enormous Yes must be congratulated for pulling it off very well.

The show started a little slowly, with the roles of Michael John O’Neill and Clare Willoughby taking time to become clear, but once the two story paths had been established the performance became fast-moving and the audience became fully engaged. The show is based on a mix of the real-life childhood experiences of Michael John, and imaged characters from Michael John’s family lineage – both past and future. In the present day, Michael John is searching for his father, while in the 16th century, Juan Pablo is making decisions that, unbeknown to him, will affect his family hundreds of years into the future.

Live music was used to good effect, combining well with the moving background images to provide an engaging atmosphere. Featuring acoustic guitar and synthetic sounds (occasionally in a live loop), the performers interact both in and out of character, creating a unique experience and leaving the audience unsure of what will happen next. Thankfully this doesn’t disrupt the storylines, and the speed of the changes keeps the audience captivated throughout.

Occasionally diverting into the surreal, the show is laced with humour from start to finish. As touching as it is comedic, the two lead actors combine to unravel the story in a compelling and charming manner. Both are given the opportunity to show off their singing voices and the songs are, in the main, uplifting and energetic.

This is an ambitious piece of theatre and Enormous Yes must be congratulated for pulling it off very well. The show isn’t perfect, for instance the moving background images clashed with the narrative from time-to-time (the main example being footage of a road trip down a shoreline being played while the narrative was about travelling by boat) and the occasional use of microphones was a slight distraction at times. I would have liked the culminating scene to have delved a little deeper into both characters as well, but this didn’t take too much away from a wonderful show.

The underlying message behind the show is one of love, and this was underlined as we were treated to one final live song as we left. A few people even sang along, and who could blame them?

Reviews by Guy Wah

Brighton Spiegeltent

Kunst Rock (Art Rock)

★★★★★
Brighton Spiegeltent

Tina C: Where the Hell Were You?

★★★
The Old Courtroom

Bonny Boys are Few

★★★★

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

“We are creatures of necessity. Necessity is the mother of love.” - 'Nights in the Gardens of Clare’, Paul Durcan. A time-travelling conquistador, a misery-eating eel, and a journey from Peru to Earth’s end via a shut door in Dublin… Stunning live music and enthralling storytelling combine to create a piece as funny as it is moving. 'Bonny Boys are Few' is an epic adventure charting the true story of a father, untold by a son. From award-winning theatrical mavericks Enormous Yes.

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