source?, review of I Am Curious, Orange, August 1988
I AM CURIOUS, ORANGE
King's Theatre, Edinburgh
QUITE a concept to wrap the old brain around - Michael Clark & Company with The Fall live on stage, as part of the William and Mary Tercentenary celebrations. Yep, The Fall taking the place of an orchestra and Michael Clark and cohorts instead of a classical ballet troupe. Apart from that, it's just like going to see "Giselle".
In fact, the Clark-Fall collaboration has been going on for some time, with The Fall's music included in all of Clark's previous productions. For "I Am Curious, Orange", which is very loosely based upon the life and mind of William of Orange, Mark E Smith wrote 10 new songs, almost all of which are vintage Fall, in their cleaner, more melodic register.
It's actually a brilliant idea, cos not only do you get a very tight, controlled, almost crystalline Fall gig but, if you get tired watching Mark E and the gang, you can gaze at the 14-inch platform shoes, the windmill headdresses, or the dancing orange and lemon who swap segments. Just as when you want a rest from the dancing (performed by professionals and amateurs including, briefly, Brix Smith), you can concentrate on the band. Possibly the perfect spectacle for the channel-switching generation, with something for everybody, and nothing for too long.
Visually, the show is chock-full of nonsensical and funny images: a huge green telephone hurried access the stage, never to reappear, a carton of McDonald's fries lowered gently from the roof, and spilling its contents over the dancers who fall down dead, an execution where a plaster head goes flying, Brix getting wheeled in on a giant Big Mac and, incredibly. Mark E Smith looking downright dapper.
Maybe it's all a little too glib, and all the distractions only serve to cover up for the fact that there's little depth, even if at bottom the idea was to trace today's attitudes back through history, and see how little "the whole Protestant and Catholic thing has changed in 300 years". But if any of the well-dressed, West End-type theatre audience were disappointed, they didn't show it. The trendies and The Fall fans seemed happy.
If Michael Clark is dusting off the cobwebs and the pretentiousness from ballet, making it more of a cheeky, glittering, accessible extravaganza, where most everyone has a good time, that's probably a lot more useful than a 578th performance of a classical ballet. Though there'd be a lot to be said for The Fall appearing in "Swan Lake."