New Musical Express, December ?, 1986
Hey! Luciani, Riverside Studio, Hammersmith, London (December, 1986)
THERE'S A play in every one of us, even Ernie Wise. And perhaps Mark E. Smith. In fact, most of the ingredients are here, maybe even a plot: was Pope John Paul I poisoned for trying to revolutionize the papacy and stamp out its ungodly involvement in gun-running and organised crime? MES has also got some key "alternative" props, - toytown papal balcony, igloo, deathbed, Michael Clark (quick twirl and "the Devil get ready"), and overhead screen. Onto the last he projects images of everyday life: mouths, puke. hands in chains, mutilation, fire and, naturally, maggots munching on eyes.
He bares his dramatic influences before us. The Wooster Project for day-to-day deadpan delivery (but this cast sadly lack thespian skills): Josie And The Pussycats for terrorists (glam commandos led by the gun-crazy body-stockinged Brix); the Crackerjack pantomime for elan and eclat (sorely lacking Peter Glaze but Leigh Bowery went close). And while the Hip Priest's dialogue is only tenuousiy connected with the Vatican, it allows him moments of irreverent and irrelevant splendour. "The rear view mirror became a credit card", or "I squeeze the leech-wondrous thingies out of the porthole ", or, classically Mark, "Caterpillars, full and wriggling, with translucent suckers and tail hairs about my size". There are clearly plenty slates missing from the Smith roof.
"What's this pig-shite script?" demands one of the pussycats, trussing up a shaded and tea-towelled terrorist (racial stereotype or what?) and reassuring a dummy of Martin Bormann (fine performance that). Clearly MES' complex plot - riddled with nuances that only his pharmacist understands - was too much for her. I have no problem with Fall songs - that bass-driven sinister sound is a good vehicle for Mark's philosophy - but here his lyrical obscurity merely adds to our confusion.
Hey! Luciani typically flaunts all the laws of theatre (and I accept that they are there to be broken) through pathetic acting and incomprehensible narration. Fall fanatics will no doubt argue that Mark's a god, much misunderstood and that insights such as "The earth is made up of Terylene patches" have clearly sailed way over my badly permed helmet. But, all I can say is that, the play wot Mark E. Smith has wrote is a heap of shite. No doubt it's a metaphor for the modern world.