BedFest: Mack the Knife and Scotland the Bollocks

BedFest
Mack the Knife and Scotland the Bollocks
Bedlam Theatre
Run Ended

Last week saw the return of Bedlam Theatre’s well-established annual festival, BedFest, an

event that celebrates the wealth of student talent found on campus. The weeklong festival,

which was comprised of ten productions and a multitude of free workshops run largely by

Bedlam staff, was a feat of endurance for the theatre team and will help to fund forthcoming

shows.

 

There were a wide variety of performances on offer, from improvised show Making a Murder

to the horror-comedy hybrid Spookapalooza, which is indicative of the university’s theatrical

diversity.

 

Mack the Knife, an original play written and directed by student Nathaniel Brimmer-Beller,

proved just how extensive the talent is under Bedlam’s roof. It is fair to say that, had it not

been revealed, the audience would’ve assumed it were written by an individual much further

into their career. Short but sweet, this inaugural performance was a classic murder mystery, a

‘noir dark comedy’.

 

Upon entering the theatre, the audience was confronted with a jazz band, playing on a dimly

lit stage. Absorbing us, particularly with the talent of pianist Will Briant, the band played and

chatted most naturally before the house lights dimmed and we were treated to a three-song-

long tribute to jazz music, featuring the sublime voice of Jo Hill, who played villainous Lady.

A play of only three characters, the narrative twists and turns until the killer is finally

revealed. Suspense builds as shy, innocent Deacon, played by Jacob Brown tries to present

his fear whilst useless detective Foster, played by Paddy Echlin, points the finger at everyone

but the killer.

 

For a debut performance, Mack the Knife offered a great deal and shone a spotlight on the

exciting future of Bedlam’s original writing.

 

Another show featured at the festival was Ross Baillie’s stand-up routine, Scotland the

Bollocks, an entertaining exploration of the myths and lies that have been adopted into

Scottish culture. The show was vaguely reminiscent of the children’s TV programme

‘Horrible Histories’, in the sense that it was factually sound, included a few costume changes,

and a token (if somewhat pitchy) musical number. There the similarities ended however as

Baillie embarked on a profane yet enlightening account of the myriad of misrepresentations

Scotland has suffered throughout the centuries.

 

Baillie was quick to engage with the audience which certainly paid off as his repartee with

those on the front row produced some of the most authentic quips of the evening. Particularly

entertaining was his sequence on the evolution of the kilt using three lucky members of the

audience as models.

 

While he perhaps relied overly on the bollocks-based humour, Baillie prevented his set from

falling flat through the use of well-timed images and sound effects. Despite some technical

difficulties, the slideshow that accompanied the routine was generally well received and even

landed many of the bigger laughs of the evening; the cleverly constructed Twitter war

between two 18 th century novelists for example had the whole audience in stitches.

Sadly, Baillie needed to refer to his prompts on several occasions giving the sense of a

heavily scripted rather than off-the- cuff routine, and while there is no harm in that style of

stand-up it probably would have served him better had he been more polished. That being

said, his ability to remain composed and crack jokes about his poor memory helped to

counter the sometimes-mechanical delivery of the material.

 

Once again Bedlam theatre leaves us sufficiently wowed at the volume of burgeoning talent

on offer. The Student looks forward to another semester of performances far surpassing the

realms of amateur theatre.

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