REVIEW: Bom-Banimals, Bom-Banes, Brighton ★★★★★
23 hrs ago / Jessica Marshall Mchattie
As we agreed at the end of the night, it’s pretty hard to describe Bom-Banes to someone who’s never been.
Ostensibly a café/restaurant in the St James’ area with music and entertainment, Bom-Banes is tucked away down a side-street and is promoted mostly via word of mouth.
The dining area is intimate and tiny, the Belgian beer selection is wide and the food is adventurous and tasty, but that’s not why people always come back.
The reason is, exclusively, down to the effervescent Jane Bom-Bane and her troupe of talented Family Players.
This year’s Fringe show is Bom-Banimals, and on the evening we attended, each guest in the six-person party was treated to a magical tour of the premises, featuring puppetry, song, and music.
The elaborate costumes and the immersive artwork created a feeling of otherworldliness.
As ever, it was like a voyage into a mystical alternate world, based on sincerity and skill. Followed by a two-course meal and music, the evening was cosy and immersive, and suitable for all ages.
If you’re seeking out new favourites during the Brighton Fringe, or want to relive the magic from a previous visit, Bom-Banimals is on all month and you won’t be disappointed.
Brighton Fringe 2015 Saippuakivikauppias
Symmetry takes centre-stage in this lovingly crafted blend of psychedelic folk music, puppetry and tasty Finnish cuisine, weaving a touching mythology around the world’s longest palindrome.
Saippuakivikauppias, for the very few unaware readers, is the Finnish word for a travelling salesman purveying soapstone and depicted here in the form of a small wooden man.
Our soapstone seller, a troubled soul, is obsessed with what is absent, polishing his stones to perfection, each side of the sphere matching the other.
Delicately imbued with pathos by puppeteer Daisy Jordan and the meditative music of Jane Bom-Bane, Eliza Skelton and Martin Peters, we see this extended to life, with every action our protagonist takes needing its own equivalent from another angle.
The Midgard Serpent, a beast of legend representing eternity in numerous cultures and winding its way creatively around the venue’s bowels, invades our protagonist’s dreams as he and the audience traverse Finland in search of completion.
The audio-visual segment in turn is deliciously completed by traditional servings of mackerel pate, Firewater (vodka and cranberry juice), meatballs (veggie meatball option included) and Mustikkapiirakka (blueberry pie) upstairs.
An all-round sensory treat, this thoughtful existential fable effortlessly sucks the audience into its beautifully rendered world.
Brighton Fringe 2014
The Long Lost River Song
The Long Lost River Song traces the mythological history of the Wellesbourne River that once ran beneath the building where Bom-Banes restaurant now stands and emptied out where the Old Steine is now. For the past – I think – four Brighton Fringe Festivals, local treasure Jane Bom-Bane, has penned musicals bespoke for her little self titled restaurant venue. These brief works of ultra home-spun genius are labour intensive, detail-heavy works that are born in, live briefly and die in her magical restaurant playground. If you catch one you are blessed indeed; they sell out in a jiffy.
After a very lo-fi and infectiously charming ‘health and safety’ chat from waitress Daisy Jordan, our little group of five in total (maximum audience capacity) are ushered up the tiniest of stair cases to the very top floor of Bom-Bane’s legendary restaurant. Our first ‘course’ of song based storytelling is delivered whilst we are curled up on a double bed together, being careful not to bump our heads. It is, from the outset, magical.
For those of you new to the Bom-Banes experience, home made food served in a kooky, quirky fashion, with live music, puppetry or performance so close you can touch it, is her stock in trade. It is all offered with such lashings of love and at a such compassionate prices, I challenge even the most misanthropic amongst you to not be utterly delighted. Pop in on any given night and you are more than likely to experience Jane singing her folk inspired, off-kilter melodies accompanied by harmonium and featuring her extraordinary collection of animated hats. The precious intimacy of Bom-Banes is what makes it feel like home to performers who ordinarily play much larger houses. Stewart Lee sometimes plays here to a ‘rammed house’ of 30.
The musicals take over Jane’s whole life quite literally: We are invited into her bedroom for one act and her bathroom for another. We trace the river through rooms in the house, all the way down to the restaurant level, gathering cast members as the river itself gathers momentum. Finally we land in the restaurant area where we are fed a three course meal of simple, delicious fare sourced locally. Herbs researched for the musical (and mentioned in the songs) have been chosen for our supper with the help of Dr.Craig Jordan Baker, local foraging advisor.
At seven cast members and five audience members, the geography (and the maths of it at only £20 per ticket) is perilous and mind-boggling, but the delight is utter. For this venture, Jane has assembled a high calibre family of songstrels – Eliza Skelton, Foz Foster, Colin Uttley, Freya Bowyes, Martin Peters, Lynn Thomas and of course Jane herself. There is also a back up choral ‘staff’ of Sarah Angliss and the lovely Daisy Jordan (health and safety officer) – all accomplished artists in their own right and delighted to be a part of this carefree negative economy.
Jane’s dextrous lyricism coupled with incredibly delicate and unexpected harmonies makes this an auditory delight in itself. Add to this the delicious food and mad, love fueled creativity of the venture and it is already not to be missed. However for me, it is the precious intimacy of the experience that makes my heart leap for joy. It is the extra special – never to be repeated – shared moment between living breathing human beings that is the most golden, rare and priceless thing. This is what Bom-Banes does best.
RiP the Wellesbourne.
Long live Bom-Bane’s magical restaurant!
Reviewed by Rachel Blackman Sunday 18th May 2014
Last year’s production of Merrily on High! reviewed by Rachel Blackman:
‘What I love most about Bom-Bane’s delicious musicals is the handspun intimacy of them; having a storyteller whisper in your ear after she has fed you in her home. In an age where entertainment is becoming more atomised, these experiences are rare and to be savoured. Sensual, bursting with eccentric humour, and utterly unmissable!‘
And some more here:
Watery themes predominate in this wonderfully quirky set from Jane Bom-Bane. Accompanied by a harmonium and a ukulele, she sails through endearing stories of swimming-pool mermaids and brooding Brighton fishermen with wit and immense charm. Jane’s warmth, together with her peaceful attitude, create a relaxed and intimate atmosphere from the start, and it is with ease that she draws the audience into her performance once they begin to get a feel for the music. Tributes to Albert Einstein and Edinburgh Castle Rock in particular are creative and full of surprises. Refreshing, playful and brimming with energy, this is a truly original mixed media performance that combines music, poetry, artwork, and some very nifty hat tricks.
The Bom-Bane Supremacy
Edinburgh Fest * * * * *
reviewer: Andrew Mounstephen, Scotland on EdFringe.com
“In a venue that can honestly be described as ‘intimate’, Jane and Nick create a kaleidoscope of sound. Songs and poems concern subjects as varied as submarines, mermaids, bad boys, Edinburgh Rock and President Pompidou. Jane’s ever-growing collection of mechanical hats completes the tapestry of sight and sound and the results are spellbinding and truly original. Bom-Bane’s playful lyrics and her singing and recitation combined Nick’s awesome multi-instrumental talents make for an enchanting 1hr 45 minutes, and at a price of £7.50, including a free glass of wine, this has to be some of the best value on the Fringe, as well as one of the best small shows. Go see at all costs!! “
Jane Bom-Bane Back-to-Back with Nick Pynn * * * *
“Bizzare, surreal, eccentric and fun. Prepare for a rollercoaster ride of sing along harmonies and hats. Jane Bom-Bane dazzles and surprises with her amusing lyrics and costumes, and … I must once again mention the hats!
There are ones that light up and ones with moving parts. What does it all mean? You’ll have to go to find out! ” Three Weeks
“Jane Bom-Bane is either a genius or an example of care in the community gone wrong.
Gloriously eccentric. Hugely entertaining songs and stories. Unmissable.***** ”
Edinburgh Evening News
“Majesty and wit…adventurous musicianship”
“One of the Fringe’s hidden gems…wonderful magpieish imagination. Delightful .”
“A charm and gentle wit to entrance the stoniest heart”
“Weird and wonderful music” Scottish TV
“Queen of the funky harmonium”
“Her voice seems to float and swirl over your head, the audience watching in absolute amazement. Is Jane Bom-Bane for real? Who cares when confronted with this wonderful madness”
“Enchanting. Dive in, the water’s lovely.”
“Mystical word and sound puzzles … fascinating.” The Scotsman