Munfred Bernstein's Cabinet of Wonder
Imagination abounds but delivery flops in Jamie Bowen's character show
This article is from 2012.
An elderly amateur taxidermist fathered by an alcoholic monster-hunter and cursed with feminine ankles, Munfred Bernstein is an intriguing proposition but doesn’t quite live up to its promise. Though adept with a ukulele and organ, performer Jamie Bowen isn’t a great storyteller. The rambling, incoherent plot feels like a hasty pick‘n’mix of Tom Waits and Terry Gilliam motifs – all tattooed dwarves and pickled memories – while the eccentric old-man shtick is a little too accurate: burbled nonsense can quickly become wearing.
Bowen is best when he sticks to songs. A number about the suggestiveness of bananas is as uninspiring as it sounds but there’s an amusing if slight blues pastiche that merits a mention and a twisted love song that would be genuinely interesting if it didn’t sound so much like a Waits tribute (Bowen’s bowler hat doesn’t help).
Although seemingly innocent, whimsy is a devilish thing to master and Bowen struggles to keep hold of the reins in this imaginative but ultimately underwhelming hour.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, 622 6552, until 27 Aug (not 21), 3.45pm, £8.50--£9.50 (£7.50--£8.50).