This is the first time The Terrible Infants has been performed at Wilton’s Music Hall, but it’s difficult to imagine a better fit for the show’s gothic mischievousness than the venue’s gorgeously shabby Victorian grandeur. The cast and set could have been lurking beneath the production’s dust sheets for more than a century.
Ahead of next month’s immersive collaboration with Russian punk rock group Pussy Riot, site-specific theatre company Les Enfants Terribles have dusted off this much-loved show to celebrate its 10-year anniversary.
This anthology of tales, written and acted by Les Enfants Terribles’ artistic director Oliver Lansley, is deliciously dark and funny.
From the comeuppance-facing compulsive liar Tilly to the sad fates of the fungus-covered Mingus and the entirely forgettable Thingummyboy, these stories have the same gleefully ironic sting as Edward Gorey’s.
Lansley and James Seager’s production is lushly imaginative. Amid the atmospheric jumble of Samuel Wyer’s enticing set, complete with a cart, Matt Leventhall’s shadowy lighting and Tomas Gisby’s playfully baroque score bring the show’s mix of puppetry, performance and live music to grinningly twisted life.
Apart from Lansley, the instrument-playing ensemble cast are new for this production. But they have an anarchic chemistry while performing each macabre story while resentfully (and barely) following the lead of Lansley’s puffed-up impresario and narrator.
This show pulls you in with its creativity and wit. It might pay winking lip-service to the morals behind its tall tales, but it thrives on something far more devilishly enjoyable than sticking to the rules: sheer theatre.