This zany but poignant show, directed by Toby Park and Aitor Basauri of Brighton comedy group Spymonkey, is based around the exploits of Finnish opera singing brothers Jouni and Petri Backstrom. When Jouni invites Petri on a once-in-a-lifetime journey across the US, chaos ensues. The brothers told us more

What was the starting point for this show?

Jouni: It was a lifelong dream of mine to do a musical comedy like this. We had talked for years about doing a show inspired by the movie Fabulous Baker Boys and when I saw Spymonkey perform in Finland all these pieces came together. I loved how they made comedy with a real story. That was what I also wanted us to do. A show that is funny, moving and tells a story about us.

Petri: One summer Jouni was going to an acting-clowning-course and asked me to join. Unfortunately I was not able to, but Jouni felt really brave and asked the teachers (Toby and Aitor) if they would be interested to make a show with us. Next spring we started, and the rest is history.

What’s the best and worst thing about working with your brother?

Jouni: The best thing is that we know each other very well. It’s like in football, when you know what the other one is going to do sometimes even before he does it. From time to time our work on stage feels like telepathy. The worst thing is that no one can get under your skin like your sibling. When work is hard, having someone that close to you can be the most wonderful but also worst thing ever.

Petri: There is a fundamental, mutual understanding of wanting the best for the other. Of course, sometimes it’s really annoying. Like, Jouni always knows everything. Also, we can not just walk away from difficult situations. They need to be solved, sooner or later. Most of the time in the realm of professional work there is a sense that you can let the really difficult things be. But with such a close relation that would destroy the relationship.

You created some of the show in Brighton. What were your first impressions of the city?

Jouni: Yes, most of the key songs of the show were invented in Brighton. We had a great time working hard in the daytime and seeing some lovely Fringe shows in the evenings. I think Brighton is very beautiful. I actually brought my wife to Brighton last year, and this year I’m coming with my whole family – having a holiday as well as performing our show.

Petri: We had the first period of rehearsals at the Founders Room at Brighton Dome, which they kindly gave to us in support. Because of this, Brighton is like a home to us. We love it.

How was it working with Toby and Aitor from Spymonkey?

Jouni: It was so much fun but also hard work. They are so good – every day I thought that I’m going to wake up any second and this was only a dream. And I was so worried that one morning they would come and say “Sorry guys. This was a huge mistake. We can’t make you funny”. But yeah, it was the most demanding and simultaneously the greatest creative process I’ve ever been part of.

Petri: For me, Toby and Aitor have filled a huge gap that too much operatic work has eaten inside of me. Their guidance in the pleasurable art of comedy has been life-changing to me. And I hope this is just a beginning.

Was it challenging to merge comedy and opera?

Jouni: The two things I love most are music and comedy. It’s that simple. We are not making a parody. We love opera and we will try to sing it to best of our abilities. But there are very funny things happening when people sing opera very seriously – I feel like we just give the audience permission to laugh at those things. To laugh at us.

Petri: I have performed many comic roles on opera stages, and, most of the time, it is impossible to make an audience really laugh. Together with Jouni we often thought what to do about it. And this is our first real attempt to learn the tools and tricks necessary to make the audience really burst out laughing.

The Fabulous Backstrom Brothers

Brighton Fringe, The Old Market, Thursday, May 31, to Saturday, June 2,