The first thing you notice when arriving at any Bowjangles show, not just ‘On the Box’, is that a lot of people know each other. Although this might lead yo uto think that the troupe had filled the audience with their friends, this isn’t the case. People who have come to shows before travel far and wide to see them again; they’ve started a small but expanding social circle of Bowjangles’ fans. And that’s because they are simply unique. Rarely will you see people gallop across the stage so elegantly and nimbly whilst clutching violins, violas and cellos. An aura of radiating charisma and energy seems to flow from the group into the audience, enveloping everyone in a warm and satisfied blanket.
Their new show, ‘On the Box’, follows a usual day of television at Bowjangles Broadcasting Company (BJBC), from the news to the final rendition of the ‘national anthem’. In between they satire every show you can think of, including an inventive soap opera with the ‘opera’ taken quite literally. You’d never have imagined that anyone could incorporate classical music and modern comedy quite so brilliantly. Yet it’s not all Mozart and Mussorgsky. The troupe covers a huge variety of songs, from Handel’s Messiah to Rihanna’s Umbrella.
Very often in the theatre, you’ll see props that are used for a minute, maybe two. But here the only props are the instruments and they’re used for absolutely everything. They’re tennis rackets; they’re swords; they’re even picnic tables. And all the while they play the most beautiful and enticing music.
Without a weak link in the cast, it’s hard to know who to mention first. Bertie Anderson, who specialises in physical based performances, trained at the Purcell School of Music and the Royal College of Music. She’s a freelance singer and you might also spot her if you attend a performance of ‘The Lion King’ in the West End. Ed Bruggemeyer, trained at Brompton Oratory and the Trinity College School of Music, is also a street performer and actor musician. If you can’t get a ticket to a Bowjangles show, try catching him in Covent Garden sometime. Ezme Gaze, whose facial expressions could match any tempo, also studied at the Purcell School of Music and the Royal College of Music. Of all the performances, you could call hers the most impressive for the sheer fact that she wields a cello of considerable size as if she were twirling a baton. And last, but certainly not leas,t is Mitch McGugan, who’s studied just about anywhere that’s anywhere. As well as his performances in Bowjangles’ productions, he co-founded Metal band ‘Karybdis’ and plays in another called ‘Me and the Mountain’. There’s so much chemistry between the entire cast, it’s great to see such coordination and compatibility.
It’s not a surprise people come back for more. This is the most original and fun production that you’ll see in ages. Go and see them whenever you can.
Have a look at the Bowjangles wesite here: www.bowjangles.org. You can listen to their songs, learn more about the cast or simply express your admiration.