A Night of Cock & Bull Review 4 stars

“Flying Fish, Cock and Bull”
by Jeffrey Gordon Baker for remotegoat on 31/07/10

Make no mistake, A Night of Cock & Bull, an evening of spoken word and other sundry performances, curated monthly by Flying Fish Theatriks; is both what it says on the tin and the repository for ‘spontaneous absurdity’ that the poster billed it to be. The acts went from the sublime to the ridiculous and touched a few awkward nerves in between, but there was a warmth and DIY-local feel to the proceedings that is much appreciated in this corporately consuming day and age. Jamboree, the venue located in Limehouse inside of Cable Street Studios, is as basic, weathered and charming as a Wild West saloon, indeed it felt like being in a forgotten watering hole on the outskirts of a ghost town, rather than the East End of the sprawling metropolis.

The evening’s entertainments could have easily been mistaken for the monthly talent show of the circus-runaway support group. There were a couple of blokey comedians making cheap and cheerful jabs at themselves and the audience. Tricity Vogue delighted the crowd, playing hits of recent decades on the Ukulele with sweetly sincere fabricated back-stories. Deborah Rothenberg sang a song about breaking the speed limit whilst racing down Muswell Hill on her bicycle and then her lamp-headed puppet’s legs fell off, apparently due to hyper-arousal brought on by an office clerk pretending to be a blonde bombshell (you can’t make this stuff up). An artist watching via webcam link-up from a field in Spain, painted what he saw, his efforts-in-progress being projected on the back wall of the bar; whilst STIK, guest graffiti artist, set up shop outside and painted a canvas of the assembled crowd as melancholy STIK-figures, presumably his signature style.

A seemingly hidden gem of the evening was to be found in the ‘Theatre under the Stairs’ in the form of an intimate storytelling performance, the work of Flying Fish Theatriks. In the 3rd instalment of their Four Seasons Story-Box, an audience of just two at a time is treated to a 10-minute storytelling experience in a tiny little space. The refreshing beauty of this piece was its use of ‘Minimal Theatre’ to showcase story and performance, the basic tried and true tools of theatre itself. Some of the work in this genre of performance (a lot of which was recently on display at the Battersea Arts Centre One-on-One Festival) can feel gimmicky and light on actual content. Flying Fish, however, use the intimacy of the small space as a vehicle for a finely crafted piece of writing – part riddle, part fairy story, part whimsically existential tale of woe – performed with tender genuineness, simple and touching.

In between sets, as we sat on the curb outside the bar watching STIK the graffiti artist paint, I asked my stylish, sports car-driving companion what he thought of it all. ‘I feel so cutting edge!’ he exclaimed. It occurred to me that maybe these friendly fringe-y art nights could take off as some sort of reaction to bleak financial times and online alienation, although that would probably ruin them. But as I walked through the City and Shoreditch, past techno-pumping nightclubs, chic bars and boozy pubs on my way home, I felt just the tiniest bit smugly superior for having gone to Limehouse to have A Night of Cock & Bull instead.

Event Venues & Times
Showing until 29/11/12 Jamboree | 566 cable street, London, E1W 3HB

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Jamboree venue London
LIVE broadcast from Prospectivism’s phone Bambuser | (fromme espaine) live Armando Go! (kloptbaze) http://bit.ly/dbujHX

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