The Great Downhill Journey of Little Tommy
Jonas Vermeulen and Boris Vanseveren’s show occupies the space between concept album and performance. It is a surging, swelling thing, as much a gig as a piece of theatre: industrial, thumping, brooding, banging. A delicious cacophony wrapped around the slender coming-of-age story of a young kid who leaves his hilltop home and ventures down to the water, leaving behind a distraught mother.
Along the way he encounters a series of characters – big-booted workmen, jittery Bukowski barflies – and each of these meetings gets its own song, its own musical style. Behind the performers, a string of images of his journey is painted live, a Yellow Submarine scroll full of surreal details, eyes winking out of the inky calligraphy.
The Great Downhill Journey of Little Tommy is a show of real energy and the black-clad Vermeulen and Vanseveren are charismatic and intensely physical front-men – there is humour too to the way they inhabit the various eccentric characters young Tommy encounters, particularly Vermeulen’s turn as a mumbling, slumbering liquor store distiller.
It all threatens to become a bit grinding and relentless towards the end, a bit of a trudge, but it has one final trick up its sleeve, and it ends with a brilliantly tingling finish.
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