BWW Reviews: OXBOW LAKES, 17-20 Parr Street, Hoxton, September 11 2013
A boy, haunted by the witches of the fairytales his mother reads at his bedside, won't go to sleep and the parents bicker, the stress rising and rising. Eventually the same fairytales invade their dreams - when they can sleep at all. It happens - believe me, all of that happens.
After twenty minutes or so of domestic
bliss misery, we up sticks (we're in the basement of an old print works - nightmarish enough on its own) and find ourselves in a wood in which dead bodies keep turning up (think Twin Peaks) and the child who won't sleep, disappears (think Don't Look Now). And then things get very strange...
Dirty Market's site-specific work can be the most enormous fun, veering into English panto, sliding into gothic horror, leaping into the Theatre of the Absurd. If anyone remembers the "Whose Line is it Anyway" game Party Quirks, you can join in the fun by guessing what theatre style is being bastardised in each scene. It doesn't all work, of course - and, as is often the case in devised works, there's room for an edit or two to up the pace - but it's a bold piece that never talks down to its audience.
There are some very strong performances from a cast which includes musicians and puppeteers, eerily suggesting a dysfunctional childhood that's all too plausible. Best of the bunch is Benedict Hopper, who has something of the young Rik Mayall in his look and his comic menace, and in his willingness to go right over the top!
Oxbow Lakes isn't for everyone - but it's great fun and may just appear in your dreams, or nightmares, too.
Dirty Market's Oxbow Lakes continues at 17-20 Parr Street, London N1 7ET until 28 September.