Phonofiddle brings us another deeply weird show with Garry Bonds’ Balanced Breakfasts.
Oscar Merlin Griffin
Phonofiddle brings us another deeply weird show with Garry Bonds’ Balanced Breakfasts. Rishi Sharma’s original comedy-drama follows Ned Burger, a failed baseball prodigy, as he travels back in time with the ghost of six-time-baseball-champion Lou Gehrig to beat his high school rival and set his life on a path to stardom. The company is keen to stress that no prior knowledge of baseball is required to enjoy this show.
Owen Igiehon and Joe Morgan play Ned Burger and his younger self respectively, and each brings high energy and physical comedy to the role, entertainingly portraying the descent from mild-mannered to murderous (spoiler). On the subject of violence, Garry Bonds is possibly the only show ever to feature Chekhov’s ketchup - the bottle is onstage from the start, along with a multitude of hot dogs, which at first are innocent but are later skilfully transformed into the scene of the crime. The show doesn’t take itself too seriously at all, with room for clowning and even improvisational bits, which is not only impressive on a Fringe schedule but puts the audience at ease to laugh along with the cast.
Gigi Jacques, as Lou Gehrig, plays both ghost and omniscient narrator, with perfect characterisation and the most consistent accent of the cast by far. Coby O’Brien plays “everyone else”, showing impressive multi-roling while amazingly performing a live soundtrack to the scenes. Harriet Regan switches between an unbothered baseball kid and long-suffering wife/girlfriend Skyler. The entire cast keeps the energy high to drive the audience through the twists and turns of this hilarious story.
There are moments of brilliance with the tech, especially with the lighting. I think this could have been utilised more to add to the effectiveness of the show, and reduce some of the reliance on actors’ miming. However, from the sentient cardboard TV to the hot dog cadaver, the DIY elements of the show are a Phonofiddle trademark, and the actors’ commitment to clowning must be admired.
Garry Bonds is a remarkable feat, especially for such a small cast with such a small range of set and props. The high energy and absurd exuberance of this show keep the audience chuckling throughout, and laughing out loud at times, while still straddling themes of sacrifice and failed ambition. Like Phonofiddle’s other Fringe show, Peer Gynt, Garry Bonds shows off the company’s unique skill as comedians and storytellers of the absurd.