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2 Reviews, same show, same night...different reactions

Here is an example of the subjective nature of critical journalism. 1 critic walked away happy while the other went straight home to sharpen his pen for the kill...

A good review by the London Paper...

Cabaret review of The Tiger Lillies at New Players Theatre

by: Joseph Woby 30 April 2009
 
Back on home turf for a month-long residency to mark their 20th year, ?punk cabaret? trio The Tiger Lillies are as fragrant as ever - just don?t put them in a vase.

Because a Lillies gig is a stroll on the seamy side, down crack alleys and cul-de-smacks where life?s unfortunates come terrible croppers. It?s Threepenny Opera territory - hookers, freaks and ne?er-do-wells - and no sin is left unturned: the Lillies? overdriven oompah songs, but one facet of their repertoire, could soundtrack George Grosz?s caricatures of 1920s Berlin.

Backed by longtime foils Adrian Stout on contrabass, theremin and bowed saw, and Adrian Huge on a grab bag of percussion, frontman Martyn Jacques, wearing bowler hat and greasepaint (the Fat Controller via Baron Samedi), gives shape to listing sea shanties, sly ballads and wind-up tangos - hymns to death and deviancy all - with gusto, accordion, and a keening falsetto that is the band?s hallmark.

By turns hectoring and tender, if at times suggestive of Dame Edna Everage gargling with cellophane, Jacques?s voice merits a wider audience.

But a warning to the faithful. Playing a set culled exclusively from their most accessible works - Shockheaded Peter?s cautionary tales for impossible brats, and their adaptations of illustrator Edward Gorey?s unpublished stories - this isn?t the Lillies in all their gleeful extremity.

Mincemeat is made of no sacred cows; there?s no Banging In The Nails, Killer, or Piss On Your Grave (whose subject, the summary execution of the Good Book?s major players and subsequent, erm, watering in, caused an outbreak of smelling salts in Canterbury?s Gulbenkian Theatre).

Though there are moments of menace, notably on Bully Boys, Fidgety Phil and Besotted Mother, this is the parlour version, intimate, almost domestic - it?s a sight easier on the bestiality, blasphemy and sadism, but also, for non-fans, to find some room for.

4/5

And now an almost surrealy bad review by thetimesonline...

The Tiger Lillies at New Players Theatre, WC2

Clive Davis

Let me begin by stressing the positives. First of all, we got to hear a Jake Thackray song playing over the speakers during the interval. Second, although this show feels as if it lasts four hours, it is all over in less than two. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is just about all the enthusiasm I can muster for this pathetically misconceived evening.

We have all heard of Grand Guignol. The latest Gothic extravaganza from Martyn Jacques and his ?satanic folk? colleagues ? now celebrating 20 years of cheerful deviancy ? could be described as Petit Guignol. It tries desperately to be dark and cynical, but in the end it is about as subversive as that TV commercial in which Johnny Rotten reinvents himself as a butter salesman.

I am willing to believe that the Olivier award-winning ?junk opera? Shockheaded Peter was a fascinating spectacle when it was given the full theatrical treatment. But strip the project down to just the songs themselves and you are left with a leaden series of cautionary tales, full of gore and dark attics, all delivered in Jacques?s wearisome voice, a screeching noise that is more falsetto than countertenor.

Taking his cue from the gruesome poems of Heinrich Hoffman, he recounts the antics of Augustus, Harriet, Cruel Frederick and other charmless juveniles. With his grotesquely painted face and wheezing accordion Jacques cuts an undeniably gruesome figure. His sidekicks ? Adrian Stout on bass and guitar, with the jovial Adrian Huge on drums ? supply a jaunty accompaniment that contains a hint of tango.

Sadly, the programme, which also includes songs from the album The Gorey End, soon grows grindingly repetitive. When they performed their version of the Seven Deadly Sins at this venue last year, the trio had the assistance of a burlesque artist and a puppet show. This time there are no such distractions. That Stout is capable of making the odd eccentric sound on the theremin and the musical saw hardly compensates for the gaping hole at the centre of the evening.

Some members of the audience did their best to be amused, but there really is nothing more depressing than hearing theatregoers trying to prove that they are too hip to be bored.

1/5


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