Review: Dark Side of the Toon At The Alphabetti Theatre

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You would be forgiven for thinking that ‘The Dark Side of the Toon’ refers to the bleak area that surrounds the Alphabetti Theatre, where you stumbled out of the O2 Academy on Wednesday and threw up your cheesy chips behind the piss-covered bins. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The wordplay on the title of one of the greatest rock albums of all time would not escape the older generation target audience, nor would the insinuation that Newcastle is being insidiously changed for the worse.

Indeed, the crowd that the Silly Billies attracted was made up almost entirely of 30 to50-something locals. Not a student in sight, and unfortunately neither were student prices. The gig sold itself as an authentic Newcastle experience which would ‘save you from the continued artisan raa-raa-raa Jesmondfication of Newcastle’.

Ironic, given the vintage velvet jackets, turtle-necks and waxed moustaches around me; yet this irony appeared lost on the crowd. Ticketholders were also promised to be enlightened, frightened, and to witness ‘Holy stupidity’. Whether you are of faith or not, whether you are stupid or not, this is an event only for those who are open to see something truly ridiculous and bizarre.

Ironic, given the vintage velvet jackets, turtle-necks and waxed moustaches around me; yet this irony appeared lost on the crowd.

At times, skits would swing wildly from rather callow humour- that you’d never expect to find quite so entertaining- to more political topics. Bitterness behind both the jokes and the laughter was palpable. It was here that the Dark Side of the Toon really reared its head, and the local crowd, shrieked uproariously (and perhaps with pain) at crazed theories, of how Newcastle will continue to be altered by Brexiteers, Tories, and students. Despite the absurdity of these suggestions, like all good comedy, they were all based on real facts and fears; fears that even I have already picked up from talkative and friendly Geordies during my maiden week in the North East.

It was here that the Dark Side of the Toon really reared its head, and the local crowd, shrieked uproariously (and perhaps with pain) at crazed theories, of how Newcastle will continue to be altered by Brexiteers, Tories, and students.

Despite the absurdity of these suggestions, like all good comedy, they were all based on real facts and fears; fears that even I have already picked up from talkative and friendly Geordies during my maiden week in the North East.

Unfortunately, out-of-towners, students and those from a younger generation are in danger of being alienated by the narrative of ‘The Dark Side of the Toon.’ Certain pop culture references of yesteryear will go over the heads of most Millenials, and the relative generational gap is widened by clichéd bemusement of gender and identity issues that are generally matter-of-fact amongst our generation. However, these shortcomings (from a student’s point of view) aren’t enough to undermine charming chaos and sheer lunacy of the production as a whole. The Silly Billies is not like any other comedy gig you will have been to, and for a genuine Geordie experience, look no further.

 

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