Burton Brothers : 1925

By Colin Flaherty

1925. “The greatest year in human history.” Brothers Tom and Josh Burton present an all-singing, all-dancing sketch extravaganza in which we meet all manner of kooky characters from this inter-war period.

Those expecting an accurate period piece will not get one, instead this is a show possibly based on accurate historical facts (I don’t know! I didn’t study early 20th Century History in great detail.) viewed through the lens of the 21st century. Much mirth was found in pointing out the human race’s penchant for repeating history’s mistakes. As you would expect the bulk of the humour revolved around the differences in societal norms between then and now, cleverly done with sly winks to the audience saying “Can you believe this was acceptable back then?” It was a smidge disappointing that the brothers Burton felt they needed to slightly step out of character to assure us they didn’t agree with some of the words that came from their characters mouths. Surely everyone in the room were already on board with the show’s conceit to let these controversial topics slide?

The show wraparound of a pair Radio Announcers was a nice way of transporting us to the time period through the dominant entertainment medium of the time. All sketches featured brilliant punchlines with not a dud amongst them. Rounding out the show with epilogues for most of the featured characters was a tasty cherry on top.

Music featured heavily throughout with tunes from (or near the period) used a links between sketches. Original numbers sung by the characters were full of witty lines that kept us chuckling. One particular nonsensical ditty is an earworm that’s sure to burrow into your brain. These boys sure could belt out the tunes!

This was a slickly polished production with great choreography, music, sound and lighting. They got a little loose at times (especially when thrown a spicy suggestion during an impro section) and it was nice to see the two enjoying themselves up there. Both brothers threw themselves wholeheartedly into this performance with some well executed slapstick, exaggerated gesturing  and plenty of mugging. Their vocal talents were on full display in both their carrying the period tunes and plenty of wacky accents, ranging from Midwest American Yokel to Mid-Atlantic with an Australian twang.

The few moments of audience participation rarely ventured beyond acknowledging a character thrust upon you in service of a sketch but you could feel sphincters clenching as the boys surveyed the crowd.

A fast paced, high energy hour, 1925 kept the audience enthralled and in stitches. A brilliant tour de force from this very talented duo.

1925 is on at Trades Hall until April 7