Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, BAC, London
Wednesday 10 December 2008
They glide, they soar, they loop the loop – in a charming display of Twenties-style eccentric dance, Jo-jo Pickering and Aila Floyd combine two enthusiasms of the decade, the charleston and aviation. Wearing fringed flapper skirts with aviator helmets and scarves, they're a joyously comic duo who would have cheered up any vaudeville house in that period. The girls, however, are the opening act for an entertainment that is much more complicated, both technically and emotionally.
With Between the Devil..., BAC again brings us, thank God, a Christmas show that has nothing to do with Christmas. The theme of the 1927 company's entertainment – innocence gone wrong – even runs counter to the holiday's stickier manifestations. In their sketches, two little girls do something worrying to their grandmother, a friend, and her cat; gingerbread men run amok; and Brownies get badges in illusion-shattering ("There is no Santa Claus, the tooth fairy has no face").
The performers – white-faced ladies in slinky black dresses – are Esme Appleton, Lillian Henley (who also provides silent-movie-style piano accompaniment), and Suzanne Andrade (writer and director). Within a proscenium by Mark Copeland that turns the stage into a giant toy theatre, and with the help of films and animations by Paul Barritt, they enact tales of dainty perversity. Little Helga, defying the warning sign ("Sin ahead! Do not be tempted!"), enters a forest clearing "bathed in bruise-blue light" and is never seen again. Two ladies turn topiary into a competitive sport that drives one to near-homicidal mania. Grandmother's advice ("The devil's boots don't creak!" and "Look into a mirror long enough, and a monkey will look back at you") turns out to be all too true.
In their drollery and childlike but sophisticated visual style, the playlets summon a multitude of echoes: Saul Steinberg, Edward Gorey, the deceptively demure little girls of the American folk artist Henry Darger, German children's books such as Max and Moritz and Struwwelpeter, the paper-cut animated films of Lotte Reiniger, and others. The show could be punchier, with more skits like the ones about topiary rage and an Edith Piaf-like cat for whom nine lives are one too few, and the tone at times veers perilously close to preciosity. But, at only 80 minutes, Between the Devil..., makes an amusing bonne bouche of an evening, a welcome sip of absinthe in the eggnog.
To 3 January (020-7223 2223)
Art Somebody is going around telling people he's Banksy - but it isn't the street artist
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
tvAn expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle
artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Mystery man who gave mum heart-warming note on train 'wanted to put a smile on her face'
- 4 Michelle Obama highlights harsh restrictions faced by Saudi women after meeting King Salman without wearing a headscarf
- 5 Grumpy Roald Dahl letter warning student to 'eschew beastly adjectives' rediscovered after 35 years
Game of Thrones season 5: Grey Worm actor Jacob Anderson is all for more male nudity – as long as it’s not him
Heavy metal producer's corpse to be mutilated by models as per his dying wish
The Jump 2015 line-up: Joey Essex, Phil Tufnell, Heather Mills and co take to the slopes
Costa Book Awards 2015: H is for Hawk named book of the year
New Ghostbusters movie lands all-female cast with Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures