Friday, 28 May 2010
What's in the soup?
On the 24th February 2008 I wrote about a bunch of people who were dressed as rats (complete with pointed tails) when I first met them years earlier in Spain.
Yesterday evening, without pointed tails and looking very un-rat, they invited me, krissie and just about everyone who lives in this forest to an evening of theatre and soup.
We are in fact neighbours, though this word is used fairly loosely around these parts.
If you stand on the roof of our house – something you are unlikely to do but IS possible – you will not see any other houses, even if you, turning carefully, look all around. Of course, it isn’t actually necessary to stand on the roof to see no houses, the same is true if you stand by the front door but the roof affords a spectacular 360-degree vision.
If you could walk in a straight line from our front door, through the brambles, across the forest and through half a forest the first house you would come to would be theirs; hence the rats are my neighbours.
If you drive along the road the only house you pass before theirs belongs to the man who helps sell bread at the market on Sunday, so he’s our neighbour too – and he was invited as well.
The local nurse who dressed my damaged toe after the lawnmower incident a couple of years back was also there – another neighbour, she is building a house in the middle of the half forest that has to be crossed to get to the rats.
The mayor was there too – but he’s not my neighbour, just a political hindrance sometimes and a political necessity this evening.
The show was meant to start at 9pm so, this being France, it was almost 10 when Branlo, a rat, stood on an upturned barrel and announced that we could drift over to the barn anytime we wanted to, leaving behind the piles of peanuts we had being using to thwart hunger.
I was starving.
The barn is big, there is a ancient showman’s wagon AND a caravan, stored inside at one end along with all sorts of things, bitsnbobs and paraphernalia that touring performers tend to accumulate through a life.
A random selection of benches, chairs, planks and tables provided us, the public with somewhere to sit and the floor of what remained of the space was home to four performers, no five - one was hidden behind the rear end of a tractor.
One, looking like an emaciated and elongated Lou Reed/Ramone fusion – an impression only heightened by the skin tight drainpipe trousers - was perched on a stool and started to force Hendrix feedback cast offs from an electric guitar using only a violin bow. It sounded as if he was slowly castrating a couple of angry cats.
But at least it drowned my stomach growls.
Two, standing hunched over equipment that was obscured by his tangled mats of hair, was scraping and smudging with something that looked like a dentist’s pick and which produced sounds akin to a dental patient’s screams; the torture was illuminated on a distant screen at the back of the barn.
Three, his hair too heavy for him to stand, was sitting on the stone floor behind a computer screen and was apparently coordinating the flickers of the tin can lights that illuminated the performance concrete where….
….Four, an intense and slightly naked dancer, moved in slow motion and occasionally twitched spasmodically and emotionlessly to the sounds of the castrated cats.
It was riveting….ly boring and excruciatingly dire…enlivened by the sudden unfocussed appearance from behind the rusty rear end of the tractor of…
…Five, who looked as he had wandered in from a building site, wielding (unconvincingly) a long metal tube with a light on one end. He appeared to be unsure why he was there, even if in fact he was meant to be there and preceded to hesitate between illuminating the dancer’s armpit and the rear wall of the barn, behind us.
(God, i hope the soup's good.)
Then he wandered off.
Mr Thin castrated another cat.
The Dentist scraped a bit more, and the screen went dark.
It is difficult to find the words to describe the intensity of the clueless silence in which we endured this performance.