Comedian Jez Watts’ foray into musicals is inspired but undeveloped.
- Reading time • 3 minutesFringe World Festival
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Review: Jez Watts, Jez Watts: Bun Runner 2020 ·
Comedy Hub @ Rosie O’Grady’s, 21 January 2020 ·
Review by Erin Hutchinson ·
Jez Watts is a charming stand up comedian who has done his rounds on the comedy circuit and is making his first foray into the musical comedy genre. Bun Runner 2020 has a wonderfully quirky premise involving the CIA, psychedelic drugs and bunny conspiracies. It is possibly the fringiest of fringe shows on offer this year. As one audience member said afterwards, “There is no other show like it.”
Taking inspiration from Frank Abagnale’s Catch Me If You Can and using the CIA mind control program Project MK-Ultra as a launchpad into the story, Watts introduces you to the bunnies involved and through storytelling and song tells you their tales. The rabbits were experimented on in 1960 with treatments of LSD, and in Watts’ account the rabbits mutate into talking, hyperintelligent bunnies who manage an escape and disperse to various corners of the world. We see one tackling the tunnels of the Vietnam war, some exploring Cuba during the missile crisis, and even one enticing Nixon into a political cover up. All exciting, subversive takes on history that could be a great little secret shared in the intimacy of Rosie O’Grady’s Upstairs space.
The execution is unfortunately lacking. It hasn’t had the time in development needed to meet the blurb as promised, so the audience participation as a choose-your-own-adventure experience just doesn’t happen. The original songs show promise, but as yet aren’t fully developed or learnt, though Watts was apologetic about this and shared his ambitions for the future of his performance. The most prepared element is the visual slides which accompany each story, with excellent and amusing bunny artwork by Pearl Yang.
Bun Runner is in its early days and we were clearly a test audience. With greater confidence, further writing and rehearsal Watts could pull this off, as his love of the ‘buns’ is evident and the show has potential. In the meantime, if you’re interested in supporting developing work and would enjoy a walk through the history of the 1960’s, perhaps you should try to catch a rushtix. Just leave any lack of imagination at home.
Picture top: Jez Watts mid-show at opening night. Photo by Rory Machell.
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