The Vaults team missed a trick by not staging this daft and surprisingly heartfelt tribute to The Killers in its Cage venue. It would, of course, be rather fitting for a show full of references, karaoke and more, which is only a little bit repetitive.
Case in point, the play begins, after a short video introduction, with an audience member letting smartly dressed hosts Tim Chapman and Hannah Follows out of a cage. They go on to inform us with a thumbs up that, as is expected, they are doing ‘just fine’.
It all sounds rather predictable, doesn’t it? We wait for the familiar guitar melody to chime… it doesn’t. It’s the first of many moments of hilarious self-awareness. When it comes down to it, a lot of Coming Out of My Cage‘s comedy is both the meeting and subversion of expectations. Tim and Hannah know that the audience anticipate a singalong at some point, and they know that their obsession with the track is a tad excessive, but to them, that’s just fine. In fact, they both act with a certain pride and confidence, conscious of their own nonsense, with the odd bit of corpsing proving that they’re very much in on the fun. Their enthusiasm is contagious, their love of The Killers, genuine.
In their scraping of the barrel for every possible interpretation of Mr Brightside and their search for an explanation as to why the 2003 hit continues to be so successful, Tim and Hannah create works of genius. Do we need to see an interpretive dance version of the song? Damn right, we do. Does Mr Brightside imply the existence of a ‘Mr Darkside’? It does now.
While segmented into six themed chapters, Coming Out of My Cage is more an amusing amalgamation of different ideas than one clear narrative. The most prominent and entertaining, however, is their search for a fellow fan – a person on YouTube who published several covers which incorrectly spelled the name of the band’s lead singer as ‘Brampton Flowers’. In some excellent video design work prior to the show’s premiere, we follow Tim and Hannah up north in their quest to track down the YouTube channel owner. Eventually, the pair’s friendship whilst on the adventure is of greater interest than finding BGT7986.
It is indeed their chemistry which makes the play so engaging. The vibe is jovial and informal. The rapport between performers and the audience means we gladly oblige with Tim’s constant requests for us to close their eyes while they carry out a scene change – even when having our ‘eager eyes’ open to another budget rendition of Mr Brightside on a ukulele, recorder or something else is one of the most repetitive moments of the production. It occurs far more than the number of times the hit single actually plays during the show, which I had down on my notepad as an acceptable three or four times.
So yes, you can expect some karaoke with Coming Out of My Cage, along with a large amount of audience participation. You make new acquaintances through this show, and the reaction of other members of the crowd to the play’s finale is striking – a testament to the relaxed atmosphere Tim and Hannah create in just under an hour. It’s an environment which, after all the fun and farce, gives us an incredibly heartwarming answer to why Mr Brightside remains so successful all these years later.
Coming Out of My Cage (And I’ve Been Doing Just Fine) is now playing at VAULT Festival until 16 February.
Production Images: Shepard Tone.
Disclaimer: I saw Coming Out of My Cage (And I’ve Been Doing Just Fine) for free in exchange for a review as someone who is currently a part of VAULT Festival’s Emerging Critics scheme. I did not receive any payment for my involvement in the scheme or for this review, and all opinions stated above are honest and my own.