Reunited: The popular Um Ums performed together for the first time in five years.
Reunited: The popular Um Ums performed together for the first time in five years.
Oh how they laughed!

Despite a five-year absence from the stage, the Not The Um Um Players proved their popularity clearly hasn't waned as they opened the Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts on Thursday at City Hall Theatre.

The four-piece comedy troupe's off the wall the humour was lurking in the foyer before the show had even started; Um Umbrellas were for sale at the drinks reception.

The talented foursome, comprising brothers Bruce and Fred Barritt, plus Chris Broadhurst and Tim Taylor, spared few from their ridicule; black, white, rich, poor, PLP or the "electile dysfunctional" UBP - we were all victims of their biting, Monty Pyton-esque scorn.

Introducing the show as the "complete, condensed history of Bermuda (abridged)" they began by recalling the discovery of Bermuda in 1509 by Juan De Bermudez who "like a typical Bermudian father gave us his name then left."

Following settlement by George Somers in 1609 they described how Bermudians sparked off the tourism industry with the practice of using false beacons to lure unsuspecting ships to the rocks. "Unfortunately this didn't encourage repeat visitors," they concluded.

We were taken through the abolition of slavery which was shortly followed by the shipment of Portuguese labourers on the island "coincidence?" they asked, "you be the judge". And how our offshore business was born out of Bermudians stealing gunpowder and rowing it out to American ships.

Aside from the "complete/abridged" history we were entertained with snippets of Bermuda life as it is today. Premier Dr. Ewart Brown took a lot of heat throughout the performance and it was probably a good thing he wasn't in the audience.

Twice he was branded a b*****d; once when "some dumb b*****d bought a GP1" and again during a sketch saying government had announced every day would be Mr. Brown's birthday. "The quicker we get that b*****d to retirement age the better" they dared, to roars of laughter.

Common sense found

One sweet sketch, a news bulletin from Bruce's hilarious rendition of St. David's Radio Mohawk, recalled the killing (for fear of rabies) of 'Rocky Raccoon,' found in a ship container here in September. "Government officials were called to the dock when a little common sense was found hiding in a container," he read. "It could have been nurtured and allowed to grow here on the island but the Premier said if not controlled it would spread rapidly - so they killed it."

The indecipherable legalese heard in Bermuda's courts was held up to light during one sketch. A defendant was facing charges for dangerous driving, the judge was told, "during a routine clandestine vehicular surveillance of the highways." A court translator clarified; "a radar trap."

When "the defendant" or "the one who did it" was given a $1,000 fine and two years off the road the translator explained: "Your mother will have to take out a loan, you'll have to stop paying child support and you can use your brother's name the next time."

The Barritt brothers gave the show its energy, verve and its large doses of absurdity. Bruce's infallible Bermudian burr and typical island quirks really stole the show. While the lyrics to the songs by The Headliners Chris Broadhurst and Tim Taylor were excellent there could have been more enthusiasm from the singers. But it's a small quibble amid what was overall a stellar performance. Our politicians might wince at the thought, but the Not The Um Um Players really shouldn't be allowed to stay away from the public spotlight for so long.