Writers and Directors: Pod Farlow and Emily LeQuesne
Reviewer : Joan Phillips
A case of Gerry Anderson meets Sergio Leone in Croon Productions’ Spaghetti! running at Bristol’s Wardrobe Theatre.
Loosely based on Leone’s The Good, Tthe Bad and The Ugly, Croon Productions use rod puppets to play out the chases across the desert and the gunfights between the bad guy, El Kapitan, and our gun slinging ‘heroes’, No Name and Blonde Eyes. Throughout, the show is accompanied by a soundscape with more than a nod to Ennio Morricone’s original for the film.
The ingenious use of puppets and improvised props makes for a fun and very silly evening, Croon Productions’ writers, directors and performers, Pod Farlow and Emily LeQuesne, pull everything out of the toy box – plastic horses, old blankets, toy soldiers, even tiny nail varnish dryers, to supplement the range of props to create the characters and scenery for their take on this famous western.
This version of the story barely misses anything from the canon of ideas from our favourite cinema westerns. From gunfights, hangings, saloon stand-offs, undertakers stacking up coffins, bounty hunters, posses, bank robbing, to high kicking saloon girls and even tumbleweed. All that seems to be missing was a sheriff badge and a rattlesnake.
Uniquely, Farlow and LeQuesne have very creatively built their staging from two gutted pianos reconstructed to conceal fold-away backdrops of sets and many of the props. At first, these are pushed together to form the saloon and later deconstructed to create the famous scene for the final shoot out in the cemetery, with the piano keys standing end on to form the crosses above the graves.
It’s a short show running at just over one hour yet attention does wander at times. The stand-offs in the saloon took a long time to set up but doesn’t come too much. There are a few too many meandering chases through the desert which begin to feel repetitive. The transitions between scenes are often drawn out. This may feel a little critical for a comic production, but for such a short show it is a little disappointing not to keep us gripped the whole time. The only thing that should be getting twitchy was the gun slinger’s fingers.
But Farlow and LeQuesne have put together a fun and creatively unique evening. Not an easy show to categorise but it may help to imagine the enigmatic Clint Eastwood as The Man With No Name from the Spaghetti Westerns, then close your eyes and overlay this iconic image with Troy Tempest from Stingray. You’ll get the idea…
Runs until 12October 2016 | Image:Croon Productions