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EDINBURGH 2015 - BWW Reviews: HEY HEY 16K, Sneaky Pete's, August 13 2015


Aptly introduced by the cast as an hour of "singing, dancing and titting about", this two man musical comedy takes it name from the viral music video hit of the pre-YouTube era, praising the many virtues of the ZX Spectrum and its ilk. In Hey Hey 16k, our protagonist Mark travels back in time to 1985, the heyday of such machines, where fears of tape-loading errors sat alongside fears of nuclear oblivion. There, he meets his younger self, a teenager more comfortable with programming than procreation, yearning to be normal, and to whom he offers up advice for the future in the form of a range of catchy comedy songs. The voyage of nostalgic reflection is akin to a nerdier version of autobiographies like John O'Farrell's Things Can Only Get Better, and features songs about everything from dad jokes to the poetry of computer programming.

There is something of a jukebox musical feel to the show, as often disparately themed songs are hung on a somewhat flimsy narrative - a digression causing the appearance of Ada Lovelace seemed a little forced - though the songs themselves are enjoyable and the performance never takes itself too seriously. A particular highlight was an early song noting how the popular idea of what the 1980s were like was far away from the real working class experience. Geeky references, such as Mark proving his identity to his younger self by identifying which Doctor Who assistant would be his dream woman, also go down well.

It feels refreshingly like a Fringe show should, with time-travel effects created with the aid of a whistle and some excellent hula hoop work, and an intimate setting allowing the performers to riff on the audience's responses, as well as encouraging them to sing along with the eponymous final song (that you will still be singing hours later!).

Hey Hey 16k is a fun Fringe frolic and an ideal show for the Buzzfeed generation - those, like myself, who regularly try to relive our history through gifset snapshots and who are so often staggered by how much things have changed in our lifetimes (remember when computers ran on tapes?!). To make it an even better alternative to such articles, all audience members get a free CD and badge!

Hey Hey 16k is at Sneaky Pete's each day at 18:15 until August 22nd.

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