Thursday, 24 July 2014

Chapter 28: Tangerino's "The Red Shoes"

“Music is a playground in which audience and performer gets to explore”

Roundhouse Radio's Ros Fraser

The Vaults, underneath Waterloo Bridge, was our playground last night where Tangerino, the brainchild of sisters Lil and Kitty Rice, revived the tale Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of "The Red Shoes".  And when I say revive, wow, what a breath of fresh air.   These guys energised the scene with a network of creative friends bringing together music, art and acrobatics.  The idea behind the show is to recreate their ideal night out, and  “the kind of evening we enjoy out in London would include an exhibition, a show of some sort and great live music” (quote from the programme).  If I’d realised that before, it would have been the perfect end of term night out for my Circus Space classmates this week instead of the dive of a pub in Hoxton.   
This is Tangerino's third show, and each one has been in a different location  "each space has given the show a different aesthetic” (ibid.). I’m not familiar with the previous productions, but the cavernous grandeur of The Vaults is the perfect setting for this dark tale, and, as they say, if the show fits   In fact, it makes me wonder what came first, the location or the show?

It was my first time to The Vaults, and I was struck by the riot of colour as you descend into the tunnel.   I was in good company too with Anne, the friend who has travelled with me to Circus Space every Tuesday,  pictured here in glorious technicolour, displaying untapped equilibrium talents  in her red heels.  

We were greeted with the welcome “Good evening, now, what time were you expecting the show to begin?” Well, I thought 7.30, but the extra hour was very welcome.  One of the other punters announced he was off to score some D in the meantime then - we’re all Ecstatic about sunshine at the moment - while we used the time to browse the art on the walls, designed to compliment the show,  and got our Vitamin D from a bottle of Sol at the bar. The bar that sits atop a bath. Surreal. We really had scored. 

The bar was at one end of the performance space where ecclesiastical windows are silhouetted on the walls. Ahead, the chairs were arranged in pews for the congregation either side of a central aisle, that led up to a garden arch festooned with garlands of ivy and pairs of scarlet slippers.   There was a rope in the rigging and to the right an elevated platform for the musicians.  The stage is now set for the story of a young girl, Karen, who slips on the red shoes and just can't stop dancing.  It is presented thematically rather than through a plot, via the scenes of Pride, Vanity, Condemnation and Guilt.

Deadly sins the lot of them in my book, quite frankly.  A bit to close to the bone.  Unlike Anne, I didn’t dust off my red shoes for the evening, but I did wear my old pair of tango sandals.  Proper dancing ones from a life before kids, and though the suede sole is worn through now, putting them on again took me back to lessons with my then fiancé in a church crypt  in Farringdon.  Paul & Michiko still teach at El Once Club,  it would be great to go back.   In a distracted state (three kids, bed-time) I draped on a red dress that I haven't worn for years. It felt fabulous, and it wasn’t until I met friends, and their open jaws, at the train station, that I realised the the drape was a more of a gape, and there was a bit too much on display. Luckily Caro had a kirby grip to hand, and with a nip and tuck, covered up my immodesty.  

In the show, Pride comes dancing along before a fall into Vanity, who is as exquisitely graceful on rope as she is foolish in the presence of the Poe-faced Grimm Reaper.  Condemnation follows in the hand(stand)s of the most awesome acrobalancers, whose feats literally took my breath away.  I enjoyed having Anne to hand, who, as a student of the language of acrobalance, could decode the movements for me afterwards, explaining precisely why I was right to be impressed.

We were then ushered into the depths of the Vaults for the final scene where we find Guilt exposed.  We surround the contortionist, part voyeur, part judge and jury.  But as she begins to move, the balance of power shifts. The body twists into such  extraordinary shapes that it is the audience who is taken out of their comfort zone.  

Claudia Hughes, Contortionist and Hannah Tottenham, Violinist
In the actual tale - I read it on the tube this morning! - when Karen begins to fully comprehend the extent of the damage the red shoes are inflicting she begs an executioner to use his axe to sever her feet from her body.  Contortion illustrates this cleavage perfectly.  The head appears suspended in space while the body has a mind of its own, and the feet dance of their own accord.  At the end, crippled by Guilt?, it makes sense that she has to be carried off.

Redemption?  Well, it took the form of the Soul-Full live music afterwards, created by the fabulous voice of Lil Rice and all her band of talent.  You were invited to dance the night away, just be careful where that might lead ...

Lil Rice and Ollie Clark

Ones to watch:
(click on names for links to sites where given)

Director and Producer:  Lil Rice 
Art Director and Producer: Kitty Rice
Assistant Director:  Luke Hallgarten


Dancer - Olivia Leek
Rope artist - Maisy Taylor
Hand to hand - Floria De Silva
Hand to hand - Arthur Parsons
Contortionist - Claudia Hughes

Lil Rice (Director and Producer)

Ollie Clark - Guitar and Piano
Hannah Tottenham/Rosie Kohl - Violinist
Ed Johnston - Drummer
Austin Cooper - Trumpeter
Hidden Charms Band

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