Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Joe Bone: One Man Powerhouse

By | Published on Thursday 3 January 2013


Joe Bone has long been a favourite of the ThreeWeeks team at the Edinburgh Festival; his trilogy of self-penned one man shows centring on the character of Bruce Bane have, over the last few years, made him something of a legend at the Scottish Capital’s annual Fringe fest (and won him a ThreeWeeks Editors’ Award in 2010).

So, when we heard he was headed to London to perform all three ‘Bane’ shows in one week (and, on Sunday, in one day), we felt duty bound to put the man himself on the TW platform. That is to say, we caught up with Joe to ask a few questions about Bane’s journey so far, and what plans he has for the future.

CM: The ThreeWeeks team have watched the ‘Bane’ trilogy develop over a number of Edinburgh Festivals – but for the uninitiated, can you explain the premise of the three shows?
JB: They’re a series of comedy stories centred on an assassin/hired hand called Bruce Bane. He’s suddenly become the target, however, and must figure out who’s killing those around him. I tell the story by playing all the characters and performing all the sound effects, whether it’s the sound of a gun and the pouring of a whisky. The whole thing is then soundtracked live by Ben Roe, who sits to one side and underpins everything with his guitar. It’s an affectionate send up of genre conventions and American cinema in general – drawing from across the cinema board but pinned in the world of film noir by the central character Bruce Bane. It’s a silly story for grown up kids, basically.

CM: You had a lot of success with the ‘Bane’ trilogy at the Edinburgh Fringe. Have you toured the plays elsewhere?
JB: Yes, we’ve toured the UK a bit, and we’re scheduled to do more in the autumn. We’ve also performed the show in Italy, Germany, Ireland and Brazil. We’re heading to Australia in early February and hope to get to New York in December 2013, all things being well.

CM: What brings you and the trilogy to the Soho Theatre?
JB: We’ve been eyeing up the Soho for some time, and had a run planned there in May last year, but it didn’t work out. However, the invitation came for January and we took it. The Soho Theatre is the centre for new performance works in London, I think. It provides a great platform for artists bringing their work to a London audience, be it a scratch performance or a finished article. There are artists who are just breaking though and artists who are at the peak of their powers, I’m not sure how common that is in London, specifically in the comedy world, but even in theatre. I think you only have to look at the brochure to see the kind of quality that the Soho is showcasing and it’s a privilege to be in such company.

CM: Have you made any changes to the original scripts for the latest performances?
JB: The scripts are always changing here and there, but the structure is still the same. I try and make Ben laugh sometimes by squeezing in the names of Manchester United’s 1994 FA Cup winning squad, or something like that! If I can get him to crack, I win.

CM: We hear that there’s a ‘Bane 4’ in the pipeline – when is this likely to be ready for production and where is it likely to premiere?
JB: Yes, that is likely to premiere in June or July this year, and then head to Edinburgh.

CM: Will there come a point when you stop doing the ‘Bane’ shows? Do you have a swansong scheduled, or will you keep on?
JB: It’s a difficult one. There is a certainly a large part of me that knows that I can’t go on writing these shows forever, however, they’ve provided me with such fun and interest since 2009 that I think I’d like to do more. There is even a Portuguese translation of ‘Bane 1’, called ‘Billdog’, running in Rio, so I need to follow the project through to a conclusion. There are so many other types of humour, physicality, story and character development that can exist inside the Bane world. I’ll know deep down when to quit.

CM: Of course it would be best to see all three of the shows, but do they each stand-alone too? If I only had time to see one, would I be able to follow any of them, or should I just go to see ‘Bane 1’?
JB: You can see just ‘Bane 2’ or just ‘Bane 3’ and stop there; they’re all stand-alone shows. You do get a more rounded experience if you see all three, but it’s by no means essential.

CM: Do you have any other projects or appearances lined up for the coming year?
JB: Well, I’ve a very busy 2013 as things stand, kicking off with the Soho run in January, I’m touring Australia in February, March and April, then to Brazil in May for four weeks working on ‘Billdog 2’. I’ve got two live shows to write for Edinburgh in August, UK touring in the autumn with New York scheduled for December.

I also have a live project that I’ve been writing for a couple of years now called ‘The Train People: The Last Leafer’, which is about these small creatures who are about the size of your thumbnail and who live in the trees and wilderness. They travel from place to place holding leaves above their heads and fanning their tales to fly, so that to the naked eye it looks simply as if a leaf were blowing in the wind.

They are nearly extinct having been hunted by their mortal enemy, the Wasps and Hornets. A young one gets lost and must find his way home through the dark forest. It’s a tale set in the woodland so I’ll be playing Flies, Woodlice, Beetles and Spiders as well as Leafers. For more info visit my website,

Joe Bone appears in Bane 1, 2 and 3 at Soho Theatre, from Monday 7 until Sunday 13 Jan; for the times and dates of the different shows in the trilogy see the Soho Theatre website.


Photo: Idil Sukan