Friday, November 28, 2014

'The Boy Who Kicked Pigs' at Mimetic Festival, 27th November 2014

In the end only one pig got kicked, and even that turned out to be a piggy bank.  Still, you're a fool if you feel short-changed after a four-strong show that features shark attacks, burning nuns, little girls being fed weedkiller, a crossbow bolt shot through the neck, rats chewing through a dying boy's guts, a suicidal fishmonger and a gigantic fireball consuming the entirety of Kent.  All this done in 75 minutes in the damp depths of the Waterloo vaults.

The Boy Who Kicked Pigs is a Kill the Beast production, adapted from a children's book by Tom Baker (yes that Tom Baker).  The show plunges us into a grubby, monochromatic universe where the characters skins are zombie silver, their outfits scruffily oversized and their behaviour?  Well, the general tone is set in the first scene when a blind man triumphantly describes how he heroically saved a young girl from a vicious badger attack. Worried that others might think he's telling tall tales he triumphantly whips out the badger's hide.  It's a pigtail.  To horrified silence he describes how the the grateful girl silently snuffled off into the undergrowth.

Then the blind man gets mown down by a car.  It's that kind of show.

From this promising start the action snowballs to increasingly demented heights.  At the centre of it all is Robert Caligari, "a nasty piece of work".  He's a cruel, utterly misanthropic young boy, consumed by hatred for his younger sister Nerys.  She's in possession of Trevor, a piggy bank and her imaginary best friend.  Patrick mocks her incessantly for only having imaginary friends, yet Nerys retorts that at least she has friends, even they are imaginary.

But all too soon Trevor begins talking to Patrick.  In a stentorian, upper-class accent he goads Patrick to new heights of violent depravity, daring him to become a 'proper' murderer; "to look his victim right between the eyes and make a pact with the soul you're about to take."  But Baker's violent universe proves to be a karmic one and this diabolical child soon reaps the consequences of his actions

Almost from minute one I knew this was going to be ace.  The aesthetic, which echoes the source material, moves like an Edward Gorey illustration shocked into horrible life.  The harsh makeup has the effect of making the performer's eyes manic and their teeth appear oddly skeletal and skull-like, (appropriately) echoing The Cabinet of Dr Caligari.  This is combined by a series of projections that paint a picture of a tortured, gothic, tattered old Britain.  In a queasily disgusting sort of way it's rather beautiful.

Things are further elevated by the magnificent performances from the cast.  These four, David Cumming, Natasha Hodgson, Oliver Jones and Zoe Roberts, shuffle characters as expertly as a card shark with a fresh deck.  It's almost a theatrical magic trick how quickly they pop off stage and emerge a moment later in an entirely new outfit and persona.  All four have an incredibly tight handle on their body language, particularly when they're portraying children.  They move with stompy insouciance, jutting their backs, lips and knees into what amounts to a full body scowl.

This peaks in a dizzyingly impressive motorway pileup sequence.  Bending around each other like pretzels the four convey numerous groups careering into each other, terror washing across faces, bones snapping and flesh being consumed by flames.  They're so immaculately precise that it's like watching a barking mad piece of contemporary dance.

You can probably tell by now that I thoroughly enjoyed this.  It's not exactly the most meaningful and incisive piece of theatre but it is one of the most stylishly bonkers. There's a grim hallucinogenic weirdness that permeates the whole production, it's intoxicating to get swept up in it.  Easily one of the best things I've seen at Mimetic this year. Highly recommended.

The Boy Who Kicked Pigs is at Mimetic Festival on 28th & 29th November 2014. Time: 7:50:pm. Tickets £15.  Book here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

0 Responses to “'The Boy Who Kicked Pigs' at Mimetic Festival, 27th November 2014”

Post a Comment

© All articles copyright LONDON CITY NIGHTS.
Designed by SpicyTricks, modified by LondonCityNights