Brighton Fringe 2013
The première of a one-man storytelling show using slides drawn, and songs sung, by Tony, with music by Andy Roberts and directed by Suzanne Hutchinson.
Opening with the title song (performed and recorded by Andy Roberts) the show explains how a mysterious substance covers the Earth, causing reality to morph and twist. Haase uses this McGuffin as a starting point, to explain away the subsequent global weirdness.
Trying to describe this vast, complex and surreal story is like trying to nail mercury to the floor. It opens with retired science teacher, Rod, and his mate Bob, the builder (no, another one) in the pub musing on the recent bizarre events. Rod is still hurting from the failure of his Seventies’ prog rock band, Mr Pumpkinhead’s Psychedelic Volcano, to achieve any kind of recognition or success, and is feeling that life has been one big missed opportunity.
Accompanying his one-man monologue are copious semi-animated slides or “Still-a-Vision” all drawn by Haase, and with which he occasionally interacts.
The epic journey of Rod’s self-discovery takes in a talking VW Beetle, Nietzsche in a disco, Mr Pumpkinhead himself, and occasional long asides into the nature of willow patterned china plates, all leading to deliciously dreadful punchlines and puns.
Haase’s skill is weaving these complex threads, vast cast and various subplots together like a palimpsest of some LSD-drenched episode of Jackanory. However, while the show wears its absurdity on its sleeve there are some serious subtexts that cover everything from the current financial crisis, inter-familial relationships and reconciliations with dashed dreams from the past.
Haase’s tale reflects Rod’s own musical leanings and is a concept album of a performance. Or, as one of the character’s muses, “like Yellow Submarine, only with better animation”.
If there is any criticism to be laid, it’s that there’s almost too many ideas, and it can be a tad overwhelming, requiring a long stretch of concentration from the audience. The show ran for an hour and a half and could either do with an interval or trimming down, or regular breaks from the full-on spoken word delivery in the shape of musical, movement-based or purely visual interludes. That said, we can’t think of many people who could enthral and enrapt an audience for that long with what was essentially a slideshow. That, in itself, is a testament to Haase’s supreme storytelling ability.
This vast absurdist, semi-animated psychedelic fable is definitely recommended as an essential night out for those wishing to re-live, or exxperience for the first time, that 1960’s innocently drug-induced feel-good factor.