During the inspired lunacy that is Bob Blackman’s Tray? main man Johnny Sorrow notes – nay, wails – that you wouldn’t get this kind of thing at The Pleasance or at any of the other silly-money-charging big-boy venues up the road. Quite refreshing then as there seems to be a growing trend for Free Fringe acts to claim they’re every bit as good – and as bland – as their paid-ticket counterparts so ‘gimme, gimme, gimme £15-20!!’. Such logic of economics or equal-footing comparisons simply don’t exist in the world of BBT. In fact a lot of things don’t exist in that strange near-mythical world: PR, marketing, advertising, flyers, posters, agents for example.
Refreshing, maybe, for us jaded old cynics who every August look with tired eyes on the stack of mediocrity that’s hyped up, packaged and presented to those who haven’t got the time or can’t be bothered to seek out something truly original. But what about the BBT guys themselves who steadfastly refuse to play the promotion game? A case of ‘build it and they will come… ‘
And that brings me to my big schizophrenic relationship with BBT. On one hand I want to tell everyone about the magical experience and tell them to go see but on the other hand I would be horrified if I was turned away from a house-full performance or worse still had to squeeze in with people who didn’t ‘get it’. There’s something about that strange mix of half empty house end-of-the-pier show desperation and nostalgic kids’ TV a la Crackerjack! presided over by a strange man in a blue balaclava and sunglasses that’s uniquely compelling. If BBT was packaged up, promoted and presented to the ‘right’ people they would storm it and be appearing on a telly near you. But then – as Johnny Sorrow says – they just want people like that Malcolm McIntyre these days. Which just goes to show how gloriously out of touch Johnny is. Yes – okay – I’ve decided: I don’t want BBT to change. Let’s keep it as our little secret, shall we?