Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
- Mark Fisher
- 13 March 2008
If there was an award to be won on last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea won it. As well as a Fringe First, Herald Angel and Total Theatre Award, the show earned a trip to New York courtesy of the Carol Tambor Award and a return visit to Scotland – this month – thanks to the Arches’ Brick Award. The List was as beguiled as anyone by this ‘homage to silent cinema combined with a shivery gothic aesthetic’, calling it a ‘strange and wonderful little gem’.
The company, 1927, takes its name from the year of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, Buster Keaton’s The General and the first talkie, The Jazz Singer. Those reference points are a good starting point for the show’s cabaret combination of sepia-tinged visuals, faux period animation and live piano accompaniment. Presented as ten vignettes, like tales from a warped children’s storybook, the show takes a number of dark comic twists as gingerbread men go on the rampage, twin sisters turn sadistic and the devil cross dresses. The old-fashioned look of the show belies a high-tech blend of the live and the pre-recorded.
‘It strikes people as being innovative,’ says writer-director Suzanne Andrade, just back from Sri Lanka where the show went down ‘amazingly well’ and even played to the former president. ‘It’s not mainstream theatre because we’ve come from a cabaret and film background. Putting live music, poetry, film and cabaret into theatre has struck a lot of theatre people as original and had something to do with its success.’