Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Highlights from the Fringe - Day 2: Hitch!

Next on the menu at Big Sexy Circus City in the intimacy of the smaller big top was Hitch! by Cardiff-based Mary Bijou Cabaret and Social Club, a collective of cabaret and circus artists founded by Anna Sandreuter and George Orange. I had last seen them both in Crashmat Collective (Chapter 49 - click here)  at The Albany last Autumn and they were terrific, so, as something of a film noir junkie myself, had been dying to see them in this show, an immersive promenade through the work of Alfred Hitchcock. And my goodness, what these guys get up with a shower curtain is worth the ticket alone. 

Vertigo watching Ellis Grover at the Big Sexy Circus City
Having had a break from Circus City after Wings (see previous post), I arrived back in the nick of time to find a tightwire artist, Ellis Grover, climbing the guiding rope up to the top of larger marquee. Talk about Vertigo. Quite extraordinary. The suspense was intents. I met up with a couple of friends and as we walked in George, the compere for the evening, on the meet and greet, murmured to be careful where we sit. Now, I'm not exactly shy and retiring, still, I experienced a rather enjoyable frisson of butterflies. As the show began there was an announcement: one of the performers had sustained an injury and there would be a change to the programme this evening. The delivery was so deadpan you had to wonder if that wasn't simply part of a darkly humoured wind-up, to suggest menace and an unstable environment. I observed George's arm in a sling. "It's not been a very good week" he demured. Kate McWilliams then emerged doing a great turn on Chinese pole as Tippi Hedrun, black feathers flying in all directions as she rid herself of The Birds. George then reappeared from behind the screen in a wheel chair, now with a broken leg in plaster to boot. "Seriously, this week, is going from bad to worse" he quipped.

Tom Ball teeters on the brink
Photo: Tom Beardshaw
I love watching George in action because he is brilliantly funny, a consummate clown with a dry wit, quick draw repartee and debonair style so well-suited (literally) to Hitch! As he began to weave a narrative from the audience, inviting us to open up to our deepest fears, the random interruption by an acutely irritating heckler at the back was dealt with suavely and adroitly, before the rest of us were tempted to lynch the wee bugger, and he transformed the potential car wreck of a situation into its own dark comedy.  A class act. Anna took to the floor next, shimmying in sequins through a number of hula-hoops with a superb black widow, ramping up her Germanic accent to comic effect in act that had us all in stitches. It was great to see Tom Ball again, most recently in Silver Lining Company and Weighting (click on show names for corresponding posts), in an altogether more grimly determined incarnation, teetering on the brink, and a man with a gun not to be crossed.  The omnipresent Mrs Danvers hovering in the background, singing, was a neat touch and I enjoyed the music in general, especially the North by North West ballad. One of my favourite moments was Joe Wild lip-synching Kim Novak in interview about Hitchcock and the way he manipulated, controlled and shaped her identity, while stripping and redressing as the ice cool Hitchcock blonde. Joined then by two more Blondes (George and Tom) for a bit of light relief, we couldn’t help but observe that these ladies have damn fine legs. 

As for the final scene in which a doubled-up suspended transparent shower curtain resulted in a  fabulously innovative acro-aerial sequence, well you’d be Pyscho to miss it.

Hitch! is on at Big Sexy Circus City 8pm Tues-Sun and 2.30pm Fri-Sun.

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