Sunday, 10 March 2013

Black Pudding - review

Written by: Kirstie Ralph (@kjralph)

The Bussey Building, London

The first night of Wind-Up Collective’s quirky cabaret Black Pudding is a triumph, striking the right balance between the entertaining, thought-provoking and simply bizarre. The company succeed in bringing to life the fairy tale stories of childhood, with an extra helping of silly audience interactions and melodrama. References range from Made in Chelsea-type shows to general pop culture, to add some 21st Century spice to stories we think we know. The Bussey building café, located in Peckham Rye, is a gem of a location for this show, providing the informal atmosphere needed to stage a performance of this nature.

The village fete bunting overhead, coupled with candle lit tables and the offer of cake at the bar made for a relaxed ambience, settling the audience into the mood for something a little different. It also complemented the entire premise of the piece, revolving around a house party with all the juiciness, like any good house party, happening in the kitchen. As told by the narrator the Old Man, our host is Madge/Mitch, a husband and wife split, with Madge attempting to make a carrot cake for her abusive husband. “Barbara”, one unsuspecting audience member, is called upon for help but unfortunately over whips the cream. These moments are priceless, paying tribute to the group’s vision and ability to create immersive yet non-awkward theatre. Madge/Mitch’s annual performance, performed by one of the company at a piano, was an innovative scene made more impressive by the time which had evidently gone into rehearsing it.

Live music added to the tone of the performance with an impressive original soundtrack; a niche element that audiences expect from a dynamic new theatre company. At some stages the dialogue could have moved into song more smoothly, though overall the homemade music added to the rich fabric of what was on offer to us. The Big Bad Wolf stole the show, with his underdog status and role as the misunderstood party crasher, miming and prancing around to ‘Big Spender’ and ‘Goldfinger’. The ensemble singing in harmony and echo was fantastically witty, as well as the sneers of Clichéah, although a stronger commitment to these select moments would have increased their effectiveness twofold. The same can be said for the use of movement in the finale and periods of sustained dialogue between the two “romantically inclined” characters Dolly and Bluebeard.  

The plot was difficult to identify, with a narrative thread lost in the change in character focus. It turns out that the Old Man’s story wasn’t all it seemed, with Goldilocks seemingly in danger from his perverted advances. The others confront him, and encourage us to write our own narratives, and not relying on those before us. Although this could have been made more prominent throughout, it did make the ending more memorable. The company are evidently hardworking and the chemistry between them is infectious. For such an ambitious show, the end result was a resoundingly positive one. 

This production has now closed.
@BusseyBuilding @WindUpCollectiv

Follow us on Twitter / Like us on Facebook

No comments: