Theatre Review - Between the Devil and The Deep Blue Sea

Showing from Monday 6th until Saturday 11th October 2008 @ Tobacco Factory

New company 1927’s first show, Between the Devil and The Deep Blue Sea, is an intriguing mix of performance, live music, projections, animation and video to tell ten terrific tales. Classical, stylised stories including ‘The 9 Lives of Choo Choo le Chat’ and tales of devilish little sisters who torture their grandmama and bury French exchange students in plasticine and each one is hugely enjoyable.

All these five to ten minute sketches are absorbing to the last and each hold a dark edge and some devilish humour – this was the first time in the theatre for a fair few months where I have properly bellowed with laughter at least four or five times. The most interesting aspect of the show though is the constant changing of performance orientation. One tale will be the interaction of actors on stage, other times it’s just actors being projected on a screen playing out a storyline and that mix of live and recorded is constantly bent with actors brilliantly and inventively interacting with film or animation; some nice touches are for example when a character is pretending to smoke and the exhale appears on the screen in fantastically smoke shapes that grow and dance, all brilliantly soundtracked by the live, creaky piano at the side of the stage.

The best example though of the show bending this line of performance orientation had to be when a member of the audience was dragged up onstage by the two devilishly minded little sisters because they had run out of friends to ‘play’ with. Dragging up a member of the audience can so easy be staged, contrite and awkward but the actors played of this young man’s embarrassment brilliantly, dressing him up in a Victorian grandmother’s attire and walking him across the stage and back on screen into the live video seamlessly whereupon grandmama was quickly pushed in the mud, beaten with sticks and given muddy water to drink, much to the audible enjoyment of the crowd.

Matt Whittle

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