It's true, nobody does the Tiger Lillies like the Tiger Lillies do. Or maybe it's that David Thomas is at the end of his three month reign and is beginning to crack, crack, crack, but his amplified voice echoes and blurs among the cherubs and gilt, and all the terrible tales of horrible fates for tiny tots begin to be drowned in mutterings of what? What? Though the music (by Two pale boys) is weird but works; simultaneously very sophisticated whispery strange wailing multilayered electronic stuff and raucous guitar/trumpet/drum music.
We're up, up, up in the balcony, above the chandeliers, so high the false perspective has passed through true and come out skewed again. The spindly compere-cum-scissorman spoofs Olivier and harangues the audience inbetween songs. Harriet (who played with matches) burns to death. We all cheer. Terrifying puppets loom out of the darkness. What is that horrible thing? A mosquito, a flying elephant, an enormous dove? Shockheaded Peter's mother collapses into despairing sleep on the floor; all around her imprisoned Peter's fingernail slide up through the cracks in the floorboards... Oh! And there goes Conrad's thumbs! Ha ha! Blood everywhere! Another child is dead, dead, dead. Just as well he's only a puppet. Creepily real, though, the way it moves its legs. (In a stange marionette interlude, a hare steals a hunter's gun and goes postal on the hunter, the hunter's wife, her leveret and eventually blows her own brains out.) Cruel Frederik spits feathers, but is eventually done in by a dog, the Inky Boys collapse, their strings all cut, but disappointingly Flying Robert (who went out to play in the rain, was blown away by a gust of wind and never seen again) was only sung to us, not performed.
It all ends with five curtain calls, cat-calls, cheers and whooping, I'd forgotten what late night in the West End cheap seats is like, especially on a last-run full-house night like this. The girl sat next to me wiggles her flip-flopped feet in delight. She looks like a ballet dancer and cheers like a rugby fan. A late, great evening.
And what next, an adaptation of The Gashlycrumb Tinies? Oh can we, please, please!
Notes: This Sunday, 12-5pm, Russian vodka tasting at the Russian Fairytale on Cowley Road. Dog Soldiers comes to the UPP, showing nightly till next Thursday. Richard III at the Rollright Stones on Sunday!
coda: all the local plays are stealing from David Bowie songs
(my my someone fetch a priest you can't say no to the beauty abnd the beast, baby the hinterland, the hinterland, we're gonna sail to the hinterland, it's far far far far far far far far far away, it's a far far fafafaffa far far far putting on some clothes I made my way to school, found my teacher crouching in his overall, panic in detroit)