London panto special: Sinderella, Queen Elizabeth Hall, SE1, 18-20 Dec
Sinderella: The Twisted Tale of A Christmas Crack-Whore is not your standard festive fare. It boasts drugs, oral sex, and a drag queen in the title role. If you hear anyone shout ?he?s behind you?, it?ll no doubt have different connotations.
by Alistair Smith . Thursday, 27 November 2008
In Greece, they?re bigger than Pink. Franz Ferdinand singer Alex Kapranos reckons they?re ?peerless?. The first time they performed in the West End, they won an Olivier Award; the last time, they got slated by the critics. Oh, and Islington?s Union Chapel once banned them for blasphemy.
The Tiger Lillies are nothing if not controversial.
You only have to look at the title of their latest venture to see this Grammy-nominated trio are going to divide opinion. Sinderella: The Twisted Tale of A Christmas Crack-Whore is not your standard festive fare. It boasts drugs, oral sex, and a drag queen in the title role. If you hear anyone shout ?he?s behind you?, it?ll no doubt have different connotations.
The show, on for three nights at the Queen Elizabeth Hall next month, is part theatre, part concert, and features 25 new songs with charming titles like Blowjob. Unsurprisingly , this panto is one for the over-16s only.
?There are all these dreadful pantomimes nowadays,? says Martyn Jacques, the controversial group?s founder, singer and accordion player extraordinaire.
?I used to go see pantomimes when I was a boy and enjoy them. Now, a lot of modern celebrities can?t act, don?t have talent. They?re all 20 times more ?famous than anyone who actually does have talent. That?s a reflection of the crap society in which we live. It?s a reaction against that.?
More specifically, Sinderella tells the story of our fairytale favourite after she has fallen on hard times and resorted to turning tricks in return for smack. ?I play her evil stepmother, who is also her pimp,? says Jacques. ?Hopefully we are going to be able to generate quite a lot of hatred on stage between us.?
Frankly, I don?t think that?s going to be much of a stretch, judging from his reaction to the reviews the Tiger Lillies received for their last show, Seven Deadly Sins.
?Certain well-known critics come to my shows and expect to see a fully developed piece of theatre,? Jacques says. ?I have three days? rehearsal and then they give me one star because it?s ?not theatre?. I tell them I actually had three f***ing days to make this show. F*** the London critics who come expecting to see theatre.
OK. So don?t go expecting a full-blown musical. Do go expecting witty, dark lyrics about society?s underbelly, sung in Jacques? distinctive falsetto voice.
And, if anyone?s going to know about that underbelly, it?s him. He spent his formative years living above a Soho brothel. ?I?ll tackle any subject, no matter how controversial. In Sinderella, there?s a song where I sing about the disgusting taste she has in her mouth after things she has done. I think the song would be a wonderful Christmas No 1.? Hmm, perhaps not.
The Lillies do have more popular appeal than you might expect. They?re one of the highlights of the Edinburgh Fringe, their 1998 West End show Shockheaded Peter continues to be a massive hit worldwide, and Martyn says they?re huge in Greece. ?I?m famous in Athens. I?m bigger than Pink. They?re rather wonderful, Athenians. Lots of them are communists. They don?t understand all this capitalist crap that we peddle so happily in the UK. I play to as many people as Kylie Minogue in Athens.?
Sinderella, Queen Elizabeth Hall, SE1, 18-20 Dec 0871 663 2500