Flies will make your skin crawl, which might seem an odd thing to recommend in a play, but then the play itself is very odd.
Les Enfants Terribles are already renowned for creating worlds that are weird and wonderful (Alice’s Adventures Underground, Dinner at the Twits…) and in their teaming up with Bristol-based Pins and Needles, what they have created is no exception. Indeed, Flies is weird and wonderful with a good dose of the disgusting thrown in.
It’s quite common to be afraid of spiders, but Flies central character, is instead profoundly afraid of their prey, the fly. As he attempts to fight his life-long phobia, he starts to lose control of his senses… can he become the predator he needs to be to beat it?
Phobias are an odd one, and often little understood. If you have ever suffered from one, you will probably have got used to being told it is “irrational”. We all have our “rituals”, the sardonic doctor observes, but we don’t all consider moving halfway around the world to avoid them. Flies dissects that tipping point.
Flies is an enormous amount of fun, filled with gloriously absurd costumes (watch out for the double chin!), even more absurd, zany characters and set to weird and wacky dance music, served up by DJ / singer/ cocktail maker / air-hostess / sound effects wizard / all-round-force-of-nature, Harry Humberstone. Running underneath however, is a window into the inner world of an extreme phobia sufferer and the apparent absurdity of their actions.
We sit in the dark with him as he wrestles with his loneliness, pelt him with physical incarnations of society’s judgement in the form of little plastic balls. True to absurdism, it is fun, it is odd, but it has not lost touch with reality. It won’t take deep thought to work out writer Oliver Lansley’s views on 20th century, Freudian style ‘couch’ psychology.
You might think it would be difficult to reduce Les Enfants and Pins creativity to a more sparse Edinburgh Pleasance stage set. What they do instead is make set the mood with undeniably cool lighting, and make full use of every prop they’ve brought with them. Absurdism lends them the permission they need to steer the plot sideways into a five minute side track with a mannequin dummy and a matted wig, and to render a dream sequence in frankly terrifying drawings in black marker projected onto a pull up white board. The programme assures us that the absurd amount of cling film used in the show, is recycled.
If you think of flies as nasty, dirty and unpleasant… you would be wrong on one count in this incarnation. Piers Hampton’s physicalisation of The Fly is neat and tidy – but rude. Somewhere between James Bond and a James Bond Villain, slick but calculating, charming but obnoxious and rarely without a martini in his sticky hand. “I took a sh*t, in your food… because I don’t like you”, he croons. “Buzz, buzz…”
Flies may make your skin crawl, but its playful creativity leaves a real buzz.\
17:00, Aug 15-19, 21-27