Archives for posts with tag: Carmen Slijpen

In a marquee, this cinema. We’re the first in, so we get the best table, right in front of the screen. To our left, a little video camera is pointing at a small black backdrop, under an Anglepoise. In the middle is a portable projector. To our right, a heap of musical and non-musical instruments: autoharp, electric guitar, tambourine rattles sticks laptop keyboard. Waiters wearing bandannas and short kimonos bring us sashimi, then tempura, a seafood platter, saké, beer. This is the Paper Cinema night at Moshi Moshi, Brighton. A three-course meal and two – what? films? performances, really. Because it’s all live.

Exquisite cut-out drawings, black ink on the reverse of cereal-box cardboard, are filmed, live, in front of the black screen, and projected, while two musicians play the score. Many cut-outs are manipulated by the two puppeteers, moving, one in front of the other, in and out of focus, side to side. Live cinema. The drawings are pen and brush-stroked, solid blacks, the faces minimal yet full of character, the stories surreal and gripping, the music full and rich. It’s enchanting, engrossing, though you can’t help glancing at the two puppeteers wielding their characters and scenery – bushes, rocks, clouds, stars – that they take in turn from a stack beside them. It’s beautifully low-tech, inspirational and heart-warming, in an age of computerised 3–D sensationalism.

Walking back, we drop in to the Verdict: upstairs a small café, but downstairs a jazz club. It’s nearly finishing, but we take our drinks down to watch Tony Kofi’s trio winding up their set with John Coltrane’s Alabama, written after the bombing of a black Baptist church by the Ku Klux Klan – sobering and passionate. A small, dedicated audience (why are jazz audiences so small and dedicated and predominantly male?) wants more, and Tony’s happy to play more, and launches, solo, into Charlie Parker’s Relaxin’ at Camarillo, with the tricky tune then echoed by the drummer, then the bass-player – thrilling. We walk back to the car, amazed at a great night out. All live.

Friday evening is so much more exciting than Saturday evening, because it’s the edge between work and play.

Gill calls: she and Carmen are getting off the train at Glynde – do I want to join them in the Trevor Arms? It’s a lovely evening, and I set off up Chapel Street (the hardest part of the walk for the computer-bowed). I gasp up to the Golf Club and onto the overgrown knoll to look over the town, back-lit by the sun, and then left along the path. It’s a golden evening, and I’m alone with the sheep, bleating piteously (the sheep, that is), and I descend down and across, past the dew pond towards Oxteddle Bottom.

Then through Caburn Bottom, and up the steep path onto the ridge that leads to the summit on the right. The paragliders hang like surprised eyes, and slide behind the edge of the hill fort. As I get to the ridge’s brow, the sun behind me makes me a hundred-foot shadow, and the fields to my right are salmon-pink. Then singing, shirt flapping, I’m clumping downhill towards Glynde, thinking of drinks in the Trevor Arms, and of this perfect Friday evening.

It’s Carmen’s surprise birthday treat, though it would help if we had some idea of the references in this show; most of the audience do, and respond with whoops. It’s a tale based on an Indian dance dynasty, from rural Rajasthan to Bollywood and back over several generations, of tradition and rejection, of the heroine’s ‘exile’ and reconciliation. But it’s really an excuse for skeins of shimmering silks and satins, spangles and sequins, pounding music – ‘ka-doong ka-doong-ka’ – ‘Shava Shava!’ And of course, great dancing and terrific choreography. There’s classical Indian temple dancing, Bollywood whirl, even a rock’n’roll sequence – and – ‘It’s The Time To Disco!’ (I love this).

Tthe action takes place rather overpowered by a digitised backdrop – huge glowing pixel blocks portraying fire, mountains, sky and so on; once again, the digital reduces the human element. But – the humans are great. At every opportunity, the male lead strips his top off, thrusting his rippling muscles at the audience, and I’m trying to read the Gothic-font tats on his bulging pecs – he has the most ridiculously muscular body! There’s a dancing jeep sequence and a troupe of glitter-encrusted bikers – it’s completely bonkers and fun: really kitsch, and great too. At the end, audience members are dancing in the aisles. We’ve brought Carmen to this, unknowing: we look at her for her verdict. “Interesting…” she says at length. (Was this a good birthday treat, then?)