There is so much in this unique blend of Victorian violent vaudeville where Celtic and Jewish rhythms blend in an incredible kaleidoscope of history, or rather Herstory in this noisy, beautiful balletic riot of poverty and petticoats.
Inspired by the real Forty Elephants gang in Southwark in the nineteenth century East End writer, Lil Warren gets down and dirty bringing tribal terror to the Music Hall. Whilst Warren’s excavation, celebration and reinvention of this East End language would make a Londoner proud, it speaks with a unique humanity to the hurt and hope of the ghetto beyond: “What you are born is ne’er your fault, You are a soul in your body you caught.”
She captures the underworld of the underworld, the underclass of the working class, where we find the slaves of slaves – woman. Yet this matriarchal world is a full of power and cruelty, predators and romantics, love and lust. Where gallows humour is a permanent fixture and the unsung voices of female poverty, historical and contemporary are finally, and beautifully, sung.
Framed in the gorgeous gin-soaked walls of Hoxton Hall, we the audience are perfectly, perched between past and present, as guests of now and then. Our glad eyed go-betweens of yesterday and today, our Madame of Ceremonies and her perky pianist are the perfect psychopomps journeying us with light into the darkness and back again.
You can feel the ghosts everywhere yet the past ignites the present, most powerfully in a glorious ending that unites us all as one at the end of time. Funny, rousing, horrifying and powerful, this all-female affair is utterly superb. Tremendous performances from the actors, singers and musicians with plenty of comic turns thrown in. The world(s) created by the designer are wonderful, a stroke of genius making the curtain a Booth’s Map of Poverty. In the true spirit of Music Hall and Vaudeville, this is an eclectic mix of styles and culture, as fluid as gender identity itself. Poignant and provocative. Catch it before your time is up!
Assoc Artist Vanishing Point, Creator of Bright Colours Only
ORANGES & ELEPHANTS at Hoxton Hall until 10 February
Cast & Creatives info and tickets available on their website