Brighton Fringe 2008
The Tall Tales of the Terrible Infants
Les Enfants Terribles
Venue: The Udderplace
Roald Dahl meets Tim Burton in this award-winning show that blends puppetry, live music, storytelling and physicality into a highly sensory theatrical feast.
Les Enfants Terribles’ newest creation The Tall Tales of The Terrible Infants is an absolute delight of a show. Performing in the Udderbelly’s smaller sibling the Udderplace, the theatre was packed with a pleasing mix of adults and eager children, ready to soak up the engaging and fascinating array of stories the cast were about to tell.
The company has a marvelous image – white painted faces with rouged cheeks and quizzical eyebrows give the impression of clowns crossed with mime artists, but their ragged and colourful costumes make them look like a band of traveling players. Their huge ramshackle cart added to this effect as did the vast array of musical instruments that littered the stage.
The Terrible Infants is often marketed as a kids show, but to label it in such a way would be unfair. It is true that the subject matter is the stuff of fairy-tale, but these are new and original moral fables performed with such a sense of conviction and glee that they are just as enthralling to adults and children alike.
Les Enfants Terribles have created a hugely distinctive style of theatre, one that is whimsical, lyrical and full of depth. The cast work effortlessly as an ensemble, teasing and interacting with obvious affection and skill. Their various musical talents also combine to create a show rich with the atmospheric sounds of the accordion, guitar, piano, euphonium, soprano sax, drums, horns to name but a few. Worth special mention is the haunting ode to the painfully shy Thingummy boy, sung by cast member Tomas Gisby.
The use of fabulous and expressive puppets is another of the many elements that makes this show so special. The marriage of the company’s physical talents and a bold design concept meant that the stage was frequently filled with a delightfully varied cast of characters of all shapes, sizes and species. The childlike freshness and enthusiasm that marked all of the visual aspects of this show had me grinning throughout- make sure you watch out for the bear! A recent addition to the piece was a tale narrated by the inimitable Dame Judi Dench, whose familiar husky tones blended perfectly with the show’s mischievous spirit.
Les Enfants Terribles are a very special company that deserves to go far – so be sure to tell your friends, family and anyone who will listen about them! Make your best efforts to catch them whilst they’re still in Brighton, hunt them down on their upcoming tour or at the Edinburgh Fringe this summer as they take up residence in the Upside-down Purple Cow itself.