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A CurtainUp Review
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
The show has been compared to Shockheaded Peter, David Lynch and Edward Gorey. It cleverly combines Lillian Henley's cabaret-influenced piano music, Paul Barritt's film and animation, and live performance by Suzanne Andrade (who also directs) and Esme Appleton in a series of macabre vignettes that insist on lurking evil beneath superficial sweetness.
There's the 9 Deaths of Choo choo le Chat, which draws on the conventions of silent film and animation to have poor Choo choo killed by a falling building, a car, a speeding train, an arrow, a smoke cloud, lightening (three times) and wild dogs. There's the Biscuit Tin Revolution, 1927's version of the Gingerbread Man, in which hundred of gingerbread men run through a village firing icing guns and causing great havoc. And in Deep Fried, a family deep fries everything in the house, and when there is nothing, left, the mother and father "surveyed their sleeping darlings" and "sacrificed their youngest to the deep fat fryer. . ."
The most successful piece delightfully involves the audience when the innocent-looking twins, after having tortured various "playmates" on screen, step onto the stage and look for a new playmate amongst the audience. This introduces a new element of suspense as the girls dress up their victim in Grand mamma's old clothing and no one knows just what the darling pair may do next.
For those who like this sort of thing, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea can be a source of endless pleasure. For those who don't, the show is. . .well. . .endless. Though only fifty-five minutes long, after the first ten minutes the visual gags, despite their inventiveness both on and off screen, become quite predictable.
Carol Tambor Theatrical Foundation apparently liked Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea enough to bring it to the Under the Radar Festival at PS 122. What's more, the show is scheduled to be presented at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina before heading out on a world tour, including Australia and Korea.
While it has much to recommend it, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea lacks a consistent story line and dramatic intent. For those who are fond of cartoons, silent movies and sight gags, and also have a well-developed sense of irony and a somewhat sadistic sense of humor, this show will be great fun. But as theater, it's fifty-five minutes of fluff.
Try onlineseats.com for great seats to
The Little Mermaid
Shrek The Musical
The Playbill Broadway YearBook
Leonard Maltin's 2007 Movie Guide