THE LOCK IN: THE DEMON BARBERS
A unique blend of music, death-defying dance, creative genius and breathtaking excellence brings wows of amazement and admiration in this quirky, meticulously choreographed fusion of improbable styles. Throw in conflict, comedy, effortless multi-tasking, the odd sing-along and fine audience rapport, and Damien Barber’s Demons prove pretty wicked all round.
In a traditional old pub with dark-wood bar, dartboard, tables, chairs and pool table, an Aladdin’s tankard is rubbed, conjuring up horned spirits who bring unexpected magic. As folk confronts hip-hop head on, it’s boundless energy and fine musicianship all the way, vocals, instrumentals and dance all flowing with polished speed.
Bryony Griffith offers constant treats with fabulous folk fiddle and rich voice, while guitars, squeezebox and melodeon also take turns, backed by two onstage drummers, one a big, bearded bloke in a frock and violent make-up, equally adept at entertaining with mop and comedic skills when not busy on drums. Hip-hop rhythms, rich with deep, funky bass and solid drum percussion overlap and merge, flowing back and forth with folk styles. Enter the dancers.
Fiery frenzies of breakneck break dance demonstrate unflinching flexibility as somersaults, leaps, and balances have dancers spinning on all parts of their bodies (- almost). Implausible vocal acrobatics emerge, meanwhile, from a strutting beatbox-er, while other flamboyant, percussive input is thrashed out courtesy of the synchronised tap, flash and top speed clever-clog clatter of three lady cloggers, clad in spots, stripes and femme fatale sparkles. On top of all that (sometimes literally) light-footed, high leaping Morris men enter this spectacular extravaganza of mix and match, high-kicking the odd tambourine along the way.
Once big hankies are drawn, a wonderful, comically aggressive, yet meticulous and acrobatic Morris dance follows. Later, a frighteningly fast, furious and complicated Rapper Sword Dance is brilliantly executed – but fortunately none of the dancers is! Thankfully, the swords are flexible. With such complex acrobatics, decapitation could so easily have been on the cards. Pool cues, though, are right rigid, yet our relentless dancers remain undaunted.
Whether in clogs, shoes, trainers, T-shirt, jeans and baseball cap, trilby and waistcoat or mini-skirt, glittering frills and tights; whether sporting spooky ram’s horns or tattoos, the excellence is the same. Nothing is static for long.
Like its predecessor, Time, Gentlemen, Please, this show is a dazzling phenomenon.
Eileen Caiger Gray