Warrington Parr Hall
Wednesday 8th March 2006
Don’t doubt the rock credentials of this show for a moment. There’s a huge studenty-indie-goth-glamrock element to the audience: we could just as easily be at the Academy watching Editors, or whatever. But like so many good comedy shows, it crosses over. Here and there are family groups with primary school-aged children. The middle-aged couple next to me offer me wine gums in the interval and chat about driving over from Liverpool for the show,then rave about the Boosh with almost adolescent intensity. And the show is huge: they rolled up with two artics and a tour bus. I remember doing load-ins for much bigger bands with far less kit that that. Rock’n’roll indeed!
Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt take to the stage to a rapturous welcome, as their alter egos, the fashion obsessed goth-fairy Vince Noir and jazz maverick Howard Moon. During the first part of the show, they interact with the audience, making fun of the numerous late-comers, then introducing TV show favourites Naboo the Shaman, Bollo the gorilla and zoo manager Bob Fossil. They seem to be enjoying the opportunity to ad lib, although they seem cramped at the front of the tiny stage of this elderly concert hall. While Naboo turns his back on an unwelcome audience member, Bollo showcases his stand-up routine. The two stars warm up with a Russian play, before taking us on the journey through time and space and onto the main event.
The plot, of course, is far less important than the out and out weirdness. Howard and Vince need to retrieve a mystic gem from either Spain or the Arctic in order to save Naboo, but to attempt to explain further than that is probably futile. The Boosh experience does not invite precise analysis. Familiar characters flit on and off the stage: the Hitcher, the Mystic, Old Gregg, the Moon, and are greeted with rapturous cheers. The surreal action is punctuated by songs and plenty of off the cuff horseplay. The artists seem to be having a whale of a time that fortunately avoids being self-indulgent and spills over to the audience. We are aware that things are going wrong, in fact Barratt and Fielding go out of their way to draw attention to the fact that the Mystic’s chair has fallen apart, that the floor is almost too slippery to stand on, that the sound effects are out of sync. Criticisms? Few. There wasn’t enough Naboo – that was the general agreement, and Michael Fielding, it must be said, did not look happy throughout the show. Someone said that they felt that the programme had become too commercial, but you could argue that about any once cult comedy show that has reached mainstream success.
We pour out of the theatre on a high. I like to think that more than one pre-teen child woke anxious and sweating that night, haunted by dreams of a grown man being bummed by a giant rabbit. Or maybe with word “Stumpf***er” spilling from their lips. We went on to a bar where we drank far too much Baileys. Sadly, though, not from a shoe.