Arts Reviews

“An Evening Of Pure Joy And Laughter”- Theatre Review: Coming Out Of My Cage (And I’ve Been Doing Just Fine) @ Nonsuch Studios

Izzy Morris

On 30th March, Impact‘s Izzy Morris headed down to Nonsuch Studios, to watch their recent production of Coming Out Of My Cage (And I’ve Been Doing Just Fine). Here are her thoughts on the evening.

At this point, who hasn’t heard indie disco classic, Mr Brightside? It is still in the charts even today, spending three hundred and fifty-four weeks total in the chart since 2004 a mind-blowing feat. Being a superfan of The Killers myself, hearing of a show that is dedicated to this mega-hit immediately piqued my interest, and my dad was just as intrigued to find out more.

Tim Chapman and Hannah Follows are well and truly Mr. Brightside fanatics, and have taken this enthusiasm for the song to the Edinburgh Fringe and beyond. Over the course of the evening, they took us along on a trip to Brampton and Rotherham in search of ‘Brampton Flowers’; a mysterious karaoke singer, with twenty-four village-pub performances of The Killers’ top hit under their belt.

The audience were encouraged to get to know each other

All the while, Tim and Hannah interrupted their adventure to transport us to another village-pub, this time in Ireland, to a wake at which the track was performed, before going viral online in 2016. Within these interludes, the audience were encouraged to get to know each other and connect, much like people do in pubs, demonstrating the magic of Mr Brightside in connecting people with its iconicity and energy. By the end of the night, everyone in the room was comfortable with each other, culminating into a massive dance circle of audience members on-stage to the track.

Before the performance commenced, we were given two warnings, both making reference to the track. We were told that the show may provoke emotional reactions, and that these were entirely allowed. These included but were not limited to laughing, crying, singing, falling asleep, calling a cab, having a smoke… you get the gist. And if destiny calls you must answer…

It was very clear from the offset that we were in for an evening of equal parts clever and silly, wrapped up in a Las Vegas rocker fabulousness. Hannah entered the stage donning a shiny golden waistcoat à la Brandon Flowers, lipsyncing to the legendary performer from an old tape. Tim, on the other hand, resembled Eric Roberts’ character (or as they called him, ‘Mr Darkside’) from the original music video, with a Hugh Hefner-esque red robe.

We received many whimsical renditions of Mr Brightside, with accordions, saxophones, xylophones and recorders all gracing the stage throughout the performance. You would think, after a while, that you would be sick of hearing it, but every single time, I was just filled with joy. Maybe it was because they just seemed to be having so much fun, that we were all instantly ready to laugh and sing with them. At one point, they even had us get involved with some impromptu karaoke to a parodied version of the song, and the room didn’t hesitate to join in. It was truly an interactive experience.

I was provided with the opportunity to throw fruit

Being somewhat of an attention-seeker myself, I was raring to get involved with some audience participation. Given ‘Mr Darkside’ and his weird obsession with apples, I was provided with the opportunity to throw fruit at any point during the show. I opted to hold off, and waited until an interpretative dance segment to unleash the apple, which startled the performers, and set off a chain of laughter within the audience.

I was highly praised by Tim and Hannah for my timing – apparently nobody else had ever decided to interrupt their dance before. They then went on to begin their dance again, through laughter, which only made us love it more. It was a deeply silly routine, telling the story of the track, perfectly fitting the evening.

However, despite all the silliness, the performance actually ended on quite an emotional tone. The audience were encouraged to think, much like was the case in the wake, about songs that people would sing when we’re gone. Tim and Hannah collected up our responses on pieces of paper to create a special playlist for the audience of our picks, unique to the evening.

A nice reminder of how powerful music can be

This was such a lovely and special idea, and allowed me to connect with a complete stranger who opted for Mr Blue Sky because of how joyful it is. It was a nice reminder of how powerful music can be, and how it can unite us in these marvellous human experiences.

While Mr Brightside isn’t the most emotional track, or anything like that, it’s a song that brings people together and inspires chaos, as was the case at this wake, and as was the case with the mysterious ‘Brampton Flowers’ at these performances. Just as the song did, the show brought an unfamiliar crowd together in an evening of pure joy and laughter, and so they absolutely managed to hit the nail on the head.

Izzy Morris

Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.

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