DugOut Theatre’s Inheritance Blues has already proven to be a winner, picking up ISDF 2012 Festgoers' Choice Award. The hype is certainly justified. This a slick, effortlessly cool production, combining live music, storytelling, acappella singing, and comedy. Scissorhands, Kingpin and Champagne, The Hot Air Ballues, welcome us into the theatre with their jazzy blues music. They proceed to tell the tale of their first ever gig, taking us a few years back to the time when they played at a funeral wake. As the drinks flow, stories unravel and we learn about what it really means to suffer inheritance blues.
It’s not an inspired story and the narrative itself could easily have become dull, but it is narrated in an original and captivating way. There were a few moments when the story dragged, but mostly the direction means that it’s never being told in a straightforward way. The Ballues trio interrupt their past-selves whilst they tell the story, editing bits, changing words, and arguing over what actually happened. This cleverly transpires into the play’s themes about the extent to which we edit our own stories and turn our past into lies.
If the mention of a funeral wake makes this sound like it’s all very serious, it’s not. The piece is playfully self-aware and laughter rings out throughout the performance. It’s because the comedy rolls so fast that the serious moments gain even more significance. The entire cast ooze charisma and their comic timing is spot on. In particular, Luke Murphy is hilarious as the nervy Kingpin and the gangs banter with one another is always amusing. Their diction is impeccable and, for the most part, their acting too smooth to fault.
It’s the music accompanying the story that really makes this play a winner though. Between more naturalistic scenes the cast sing for one more drink for the road. Their singing is superb and they’re an incredibly talented bunch of musicians who could easily rival many of the Fringe music acts. It’s rare to see music not only supporting the action of a play, but actually being integral to it. The music perfectly complements the piece, never swamping the actors but playing against the rhythms of their speech and emotions. Even if the story itself occasionally feels hackneyed, this is an accomplished piece of theatre; beautifully executed, with a wonderful score and some first-class acting. Go see.