Get Out More..............................................Opera Review
TWEEDELEEDEDEEDEE AND FRIENDS
A new "folk opera" performed by top Birmingham musical collective The Destroyers was premiered at Birmingham Town Hall on Saturday - and Pete Millington was there.
If you went down to Birmingham Town Hall today you were sure of a big surprise as Paul Murphy and the Destroyers performed the premiere of a new folk opera called Tweedeleededeedee - Sir Ru Barb and the Green Wolf.
The work is the creation of Birmingham based musician / song writer Paul Murphy, the story growing from a single song that Paul wrote around 40 years ago. His more recent collaborations with the carnivalesque and musically accomplished band The Destroyers, actually better described as a mini orchestra, specifically with one of their members Frank Moon who wrote the score and also with artist Paul Nocher who created the animation projected on a huge screen over the stage, have led to the creation of this unique theatrical production.
To the amusement and captivation of the Saturday morning Birmingham Town Hall audience of grandparents, parents and most importantly children, the event kicked off with an interactive workshop led from the stage by The Destroyers which had us all standing up at various points to join in with the creation of clapping-rythms and songs with gestures in the genre of heads, shoulders, knees and toes.
Not only an unexpected keep fit session but also a clever introduction to how The Destroyers use their wide array of instruments to build up layers of rythm and melody starting with guitars, bass and percussion, adding tuba, accordian, clarinet then brass and hurdy gurdy, the music getting louder and faster as the layers build.
My name is Joe and I work in the button factory seemed to be an instant hit with both kids and adults alike. I was reminded of that great LP for children, Prokoviev's Peter and the Wolf where each instrument represented a character in the story, ok, not to that extent today but I certainly felt there was a similar orchestral familiarisation process here.
After the break we were into the main event with the sublime Destroyers vocalist, Leo Alterelli, acting and singing the part of Sir Ru Barb whom, in the style of the most gripping folk fables which begin 'on a dark and stormy night', becomes foster parent to a mutant infant peculiarly named Raleigh, played by Paul Murphy.
The infant is left at Ru Barb's door by the foreboding Green Wolf who stealthfully delivers his package then slinks back into the shadowy trees which are characteristic of Nocher's scenery. The ensuing tale is one of strange characters and mythical archetypes with both traditional and modern references, as Sir Ru Barb and his intriguing traveling companion, the endearing little Raleigh with his wheel shaped feet and odd headgear looking strangely similar to a 21st century cycling helmet, venture into the famous Jigsaw Town and beyond to the Purple Kingdom in pursuit of the Green Wolf and the bird of peace, Tweedeleededeedee.
Being a morality tale, it seemed most apt therefore to see this one-off performance so close to Christmas. Far from being a modern departure from pantomime, on the contrary, this style of theatre was arguably panto's ancestor.
Whilst good eventually triumphs over evil, it is not before our hero and his innocent companion together struggle with darker forces, such as the bizarre tv game show host who not only rigs the show so that Sir Ru Barb is plunged into Jigsaw Ravine but, more despicable still, hoodwinks us, the audience, into colluding with this fiendish plot. We was duped your honour!
The Purple King too, would also have had us collude with the downfall of our heroes and eventually turns out to be an usurper and pretender for the crown. But all ends well when it turns out that the stolen infant, Raleigh, is actually the true and rightful heir and Tweedeleededeedee the bird of peace is released from her cage.
One might draw all kinds of different threads from Murphy's myth embroidered tapestry. Raleigh's story has parallels with Moses in the Bulrushes or Silas Marner perhaps? Sir Ru Barb could have been a knight of any table, round or otherwise and the two together being Quixote and Sancho on a bicycle.
The whole effect had a strangely East European feel and some scenes were sureal enough to fit perfectly into an episode of Dr Who. A veritable winter's brew of theatrical story telling, the Town Hall should consider making this a regular seasonal slot.
A rich and colourful tale which is unashamedly dark in good measure, a style of story telling whose roots are in the tradition of folk mythology which existed for centuries, long before Walt Disney and friends came along to brighten up and sanitise every good kiddie's yarn ever passed on ...of a dark and stormy night.
Brilliant music, rather good animation and a bit of participatory musical education chucked in as extra value. It will be interesting to see where this might emerge in the future, I hope it's not a one-off performance but if it is then those of us who witnessed it can say we enjoyed something a little more authentic than that we can expect to nod off in front of on the Disney Channel this Christmas.
Long live Sir Ru Barb and Tweedeleededeedee!
Explore the tale at this website: http://www.jigsawbridge.com/index.html
Pete Millington blogs at www.spaghettigazetti.com - a website of West Midlands culture and heritage.