The Ballad of Backbone Joe

I’m just back from seeing a great bit of theatre: The Ballad of Backbone Joe is playing at the Sydney Theatre Company. If you like oddball tales of murder, country blues and roots jazz, and hilarious surreal humour, then you need to get tickets right away: it only runs to October 2nd.

This is what the theatre’s website says, and I can’t say it better:

The Ballad of Backbone Joe tells a twisted tale of the apparent death, the murder no less, of a woman in a blood red dress. Set in the roaring carnival days of prewar Australia, in a small town’s abattoir and boxing emporium, the tale unfolds through jigsaw narrative, film, visual trickery, bone-crunching slapstick, dark humour and the unique Rag ‘n’ Bone music and junkyard aesthetic of Melbourne-based, internationally acclaimed, trio The Suitcase Royale. Contra bass, banjo, guitar, accordion, drums and the ghostly voice of a reddressed vixen carry this broken-down truck of a show down the windy road of revenge.

Is it silly and unpolished? Of course. Do the band – who are also the actors – screw up and have a laugh with the audience about it? Naturally. Is it top-to-bottom charming and fun? Is it ever. I gut-laughed more than a few times, and my toe rarely stopped tapping.

Go see it, tickets are $30 max. I had a front-row centre seat tonight, you should have no problem.

I said a quick hello to The Suitcase Royale afterwards and bought their CD (remember those?). One of those tracks – and it’s one from the play – is in my Box, on the right-hand side of my music blog, if you want to have a listen. The band are playing a free gig at the Wharf restaurant in the theatre complex tomorrow night, too.

The Suitcase Royale in The Ballad of Backbone Joe. Click the image for their Edinburgh Fringe review from the Guardian


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