Category Archives: Mistress about Town

Some interesting encounters at TG

When my good friend, who is a house photographers at TG, offered me a guest list place for their Halloween extravaganza, I thought it would be churlish to decline. I was also intrigued to see what, if anything, had changed at the club, as I hadn’t been for a good three years. My main conclusion was that I had changed and that the club had remained much the same. Not to give the game away regarding my age, which must, of course remain, a closely guarded secret. I was forced to conclude that I had reached a stage in life where my tolerance of inebriated youths shuffling up to me on the dance floor, insanely loud music and people jams in corridors was on the decline. Having said that I enjoyed the fantastic performances from Maria Carnesky’s Tarot Card performers, had a wonderful time dancing my socks off in the cabaret music room and met some extremely intriguing characters as you can see below!!

TG3

Photography: Bobette Bobette

TG7

Photography: Bobette Bobette

 

Duck and Cover

It may be the Summer Holidays but here at the Academy Miss Malice and I never rest when it comes to researching new methods to bring the miscreant male into line. We were therefore most intrigued to see that there was an exhibition on at the British Library regarding the great art of propaganda. We are always looking for new ways to get across our important message that very naughty boys present not only a danger to themselves, but threaten the security of the nation as a whole. Perhaps we have approached this issue too softly-softly in the past? Perhaps we should adopt the direct approach “Your Country needs You (to behave yourself)”. Or perhaps the more insidious methods used by totalitarian regimes to instil fearful compliance in their citizens (Miss Malice and I are great believers in the transformative powers of a little fearful compliance)

The White Haired Girl from a Chinese Film Poster, 1950. Here at the Academy we believe that totalitarian regimes have much to teach us. They look such happy boys and girls after all..

The White Haired Girl from a Chinese Film Poster, 1950.
Here at the Academy we believe that totalitarian regimes have much to teach us. They look such happy boys and girls after all..

We hoped for inspiration and the exhibition didn’t disappoint. It was rather large and a little too much to take in on one visit, but their were some truly striking images with even more striking implications. . However, Miss Malice and I both agreed that our favourite piece of propaganda was the Burt the Turtle who blithely advised the school children of 1950’s America to “Duck and Cover” under their desks in case of a nuclear explosion. Not only did this seem to be an extreme case of too little too late, but the saccharine little song and the oppressively cheerful animation of Burt the Turtle spoke powerfully of a false and brittle confidence in the face of a very real fear of nuclear attack.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKqXu-5jw60 (link to Burt the Turtle)

Rather dark as this all is, Miss Malice and I couldn’t help musing whether Duck and Cover would be useful strategy when faced with an explosively angry Mistress and had to agree that the effort would no doubt be equally futile.

We can assure you that ducking and covering would be quite futile and only annoy Us further!

We can assure you that ducking and covering would be quite futile and only annoy Us further!

Punchdrunk Punch Up!

In case you are not with the programme, Punch Drunk is the Godfather when it comes to immersive and promenade theatre companies in London town. When I first experienced their production of Faust in their early days, before they had attained such heady heights of notoriety, I was absolutely over awed. Wondering around a Limehouse warehouse, stumbling across Faust and Mephistopheles, discovering alchemic laboratories and musty libraries was quite simply a magical experience. The world created by Punch Drunk was all encompassing and I was entirely transported.

Sadly with notoriety and fame the experience of PunchDrunk has diminished. Much as I enjoyed the visual feast that was Punch Drunk’s transformation of the BAC into the interior of an Alan Edgar Poe Gothic tale for  “Masque of the Red Death” (their 2007 production); the lack of context and narrative that came from trying to combine the stories of 13 Poe short stories with very similar themes meant I soon got bored. You try to distinguish between the legions of the pale faced and slightly consumptive without being a Poe scholar and quite frankly once you have seen one gothic bride floating down a stair case you have seen them all!

One Gothic Bride too many... Photo: Sarah Lee

One Gothic Bride too many…
Photo: Sarah Lee

However, I digress, what I really want to tell you about is my most recent Punch Drunk experience with my glamourous companion for the evening Miss Mercy. The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable was a mystery from the start and did not get any less mysterious as the evening progressed. What the marketing did not give away was that the evening was also going to be an experience of life under a totalitarian regime!

What first irritated me was that you had to hand your handbag (no matter what the size) at the cloakroom. I am not comfortable being separately from my valuables for any length of time, particularly when the cloakroom in question is utterly chaotic. Secondly, they had a cash bar so you were expected to accommodate your cash despite the fact your bag had now been removed and ladies summer dresses aren’t noted for their pockets. Thirdly some very shouty people shoved you around like cattle before you even entered the performance space.

The visual impact was quite overwhelming. The enormous four floors of an old building near Paddington had been transformed into a 1950′s film studios, the fictional “Temple Studios” complete with seedy trailer park, desert wilderness and sinister basements. It was beautiful; eerie. The atmosphere  was palpably unsettling.  The attention detail and the intricacy were incredible. However, throughout the whole of the performance I did not have a clue what was going on or what the point of anything was. And after a while this haunting world started to feel rather empty, just so much superficial ephemera.

The Drowned Man:  Punch Drunk created an eerily beautiful world of no meaning or substance (or handbags for that matter)

The Drowned Man: Punch Drunk created an eerily beautiful world of no meaning or substance (or handbags for that matter) Photo: Travis Hodges

However, the totalitarian theme continued with enthusiasm and zeal! Everyone had to wear white masks, which didn’t seem to make the slightest bit of sense in a 1950’s film studio context. You weren’t permitted to speak or seemingly interact with your surroundings in anything other than a manner controlled and specified by the powers that be. Getting too relaxed was certainly against the rules, as came apparent when Miss Mercy and I decided to take a seat in a couple of battered looking arm chairs. OK Miss Mercy might have eaten an orange and I may have made a few pretend calls on the 50’s style telephone, but we mistakenly thought that by removing the usual confines of the stage Punch drunk were exploring the fluidity and shift in power dynamics this creates between actors, audience and setting. Clearly not. After a short while an actor appeared and started shouting at us. It seemed that his displeasure went above and beyond his role. Particularly when he made a lunge at me. Seeing as I wasn’t appropriately attired for a round of fistycuffs I thought I’d better get up. He then grabbed Miss Mercy who informed him she didn’t wish to be assaulted at which point he marched off in a huff.

The best bit was the bar, which had a very good Jazz singer. The finale was awful. It involved us being crammed into an over heated room to watch the “film cast” i.e. the actors have a party which we were not invited too. However, it was a fairly torturous experience and I suppose totalitarian regimes are all for that sort of thing! I recently talked to someone who knows the director of punch drunk who explained he has a vision of creating a dream like experience of which the audience member is merely a passive observer. To me however it seems madness to let the audience invade the stage and then attempt to entirely negate their presence completely. If you want audience passivity stick to the traditional theatre/ stage arrangement!

One thing is for certain; me and my handbag will be certainly staying away from the next Punch drunk show!

My sort of Underworld…

I like to see myself as rather a connoisseur of London’s more leftfield theatre scene and the description of the Little Bulb theatre’s take on the classical tale of Orpheus’ ill fated descent into the underworld sounded far too out there to miss. Greek myth, meets opera, meets Django Reinhardt, Edith Piaf and 1930’s café culture promised to be quite the spectacle.

So last night I made my own descent to southwest London and the BAC where I met with my good friend Miss Dessiner. We were both a little unsure of how this somewhat surreal medley was going to work out. However, from the moment that “Django”, our Orpheus for the evening, strummed his guitar strings and French Songstress “Yvette Pepin”, in the role of Eurydice, began to sing we were absolutely transported. Hot club jazz, French Chanson and opera blended seamlessly together. Emotions ricocheted from the hilarity of a forest full of exceptionally camp dancing animals, to the poignancy of a male Persephone pleading the case for the lovers in a haunting falsetto (one of those should have been ridiculous but was quite the opposite moments). Performances from Django, Yvette and the supporting chorus were at once polished perfection and guilelessly joyful. It was all in all quite the creative tour de force.

At the end of the show Miss Dessiner and I felt like we had been on quite an epic journey ourselves and were exhilarated and exhausted in equal part. There was nothing for it but to consume several glasses of vin rouge in the French café tradition to bring us back down to earth again!

Orpheus-85_view

The Cast of Orpheus; weird, wacky and wonderful!