As a claustrophobe, I find sitting in small, dark windowless Fringe venues a wee bit of a challenge, but The Homesick Submarine Broadcasting Company make a virtue of their small, dark windowless room: yes, this is a show set on a submarine! A pirate radio show set on a submarine. What do you mean, you’ve never heard of underwater pirate radio? Newcastle-based musician Kieran Rafferty and comedian John Whale offer a mash-up of live music and stand-up, in the guise of two mildly inept radio presenters producing pirate content while submerged not-that-far out to sea (they keep getting busted by the authorities when the tide goes out).
Comedian Whale is the main broadcaster, doing the bulk of the talking, while Rafferty plays a kind of musical straight man. The format dots between songs, jingles, vox pops, letters from listeners, expert advice, fake beards and ‘meditation time’ interrupted by Whale leaving and striding back in to heckle from the back of the room. It’s a lot of fun, with Whale’s very engaging stand up delivered with a kind of deadpan energy (although I may be biased; I love the Newcastle accent and feel like anything funny is twice as funny when delivered in a Geordie accent). The off-beat comedy is easily matched by Rafferty’s live music. Rafferty, a singer-songwriter featured on Tom Robinson’s BBC Introducing Mixtape, delivers stunning vocals and piano, making a very small Casio keyboard sound surprisingly lovely.
Comedy and music can be an odd combination, but in Rafferty and Whale’s hands, it works. Silly, surreal but completely charming, the whole experience is a pleasingly weird respite from the festival mayhem.
Dive in and enjoy some offbeat underwater pirate radio. Highly recommended.
Kieran and the Whale: The Homesick Submarine Broadcasting Company, Stand 4, Aug 9-12, 14-26, 10:35pm