If You're Feeling Sinister @ Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose
An irreverent and anarchic jukebox musical based on Belle and Sebastien's classic album If You're Feeling Sinister
Inspired by the iconic Belle and Sebastien album of the same name, If You're Feeling Sinister uses the Scottish bands' songs to paint a poignant image of human connections and narrate the fallout of a cataclysmic secret. This Avalon/BBC Arts’ two-hander begins boldly, singing Glasgow’s praises with the occasional expletive tossed towards the festival-hosting capital city. This irreverent and anarchic tone carries throughout the next hour, as Boss (Alan McHugh) and Kid (Sarah Swire) revel in the strange, soulful connection that has led to their latest indiscretion: an art heist.
Boss and Kid’s dynamic is a foible-strewn pairing that proves a compelling focus, earning sympathy through their reluctant vulnerability. The show leaves the sexual and romantic side of their relationship as implied rather than defined – a strong, delicate choice considering the significant age difference between the two. Their genuine emotional connection takes centre stage, underpinning the jukebox musical with an honesty that does not undercut its veracity or glamorise its co-dependence. Kid is the audience’s eyes, ears, and confidante, controlling the narration by conducting the songs and stage cues that tie the tale together appropriately (Swire is also the show’s musical director). Her bravura performance exudes youth’s co-existing cockiness and self-loathing, moving the show towards a strong but inevitable conclusion.
Paul Brotherston’s direction keeps the action snappy, allowing a fully realised, unforced arc to emerge over the play’s one-hour run time. Even without prior album familiarity, If You’re Feeling Sinister is a funny, touching tale, sitting confidently between buddy comedy and romantic tragedy and proving a memorable festival afternoon.