Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Tues 28th Dec: Theo Adams "Cry Out" at The ICA

All imagery by Yasmina Dextor at http://pandoras-photobox.blogspot.com/

When Bishi invited me to the ICA to see the Theo Adams show "Cry Out" I knew I was at the right place when I stepped across the threshold littered with a few rogue leaves of red tinsel from the previous evening. Since the days of a totally red glittered The-O catapulting himself through the crowds of clubland - the insignia has morphed with every movement of his career. His statement smudged red lipstick may have started out as a disco diva gone awry "look" but it has now become his art and the finale of his current production with the entire cast suddenly covered in the shiny stuff. Brilliant!
Bishi came dressed in a red ensemble with red swirl through her coiffed quiff as did Patrick Wolf donning a muscat red suit from shoes and socks to shirt and hair. We were ready to be entertained and we weren't alone. I spotted Jefferson Hack, Courtney Love, Simon Callow and I was automatically intrigued how Theo has orchestrated this alternative mission and attracted a heavy weight fan-base to follow the spectacle. I always joke with him about us busy bees being "productive"and his relentless drive has resulted in heading his own company travelling the world with each production. At 21, Theo has returned from Tokyo for a show in conjunction with Luis Vuitton to a sold out 2 night stint at The ICA. The enterprise is totally self funded - an amazing credit to have pulled off in creating a viable and rolling business within the current climate and time of battle for the arts.
So where did it all start? Bishi first encountered the bad-taste taste maker via myspace from discovering his reverential inspirations and asking him to take part in the Kashpoint May Parade of 2006 (see below). Theo's genuine love of tragic glamour in the form of fallen divas through to the latest Eurovision song contest is not ironic but an absolute passion which in itself is part of his charm and humour. I remember the flood of facebook invitations "The-O Adams has joined Dolly Parton and suggests you do to" - just one of his 105 favourite music pages! The legacies of these female forces from Lizza Minelli through to Beyonce Knowles have been tapped into for "Cry Out" with a dose of soundbites from the films of thier lives. Referenced scenes from "Mommie Dearest" find Theo's leading lady Gwendoline Christie wearing an awesome skyscraper shoulderpadded dressing gown brandishing a coathanger hacking into the scaffolding set. The eclectic soundtrack collages lip-sycnhed snippets from the same sources via spurts of classic Opera and Philip Glass scores, finishing on Scottee's strong rendition of The Decemberists, "I was meant for the stage".
It may seem strange for a young man to hinge his treatments on tackling themes of vulneribility in the obsolete twilight years of Hollywood's feminine fame but this is his passion. Instead of attending art school and writing an arbitrary dissertation for the sake of it, self taught Theo has just instinctively become an authority on the subject of divas and the history of the genre. (In a way, I wish it was a thesis so I had some footnotes to decode each reference but luckily I had the 2nd best thing with Bishi - a certified critic on the subject!)
Theo let each character and dancer have their own turn in the spotlight, waiting until the very end to step out of the shadows and have his final moment (his Martene McCutcheon Perfect Moment, if you will). This was the perfect crescendo with him thrashing round the stage to Sascha Fierce in a sequin bodysuit and long tasseled gloves, teasingly and intimidatingly venturing out into the auditorium. Despite the raw, ragged and in-your-face devices, Theo handles the context of his show with sincere sensitivity. A projected short film of sympathetic body morphing footage by Matthew Stone shines down in a shaft of light between the action. This is a great extension to the world on stage and addition of extra characters to the already diverse cross section of humanity represented in his cast. Every shape, creed, and gender is covered in the friends that Theo has brought on board to convey his shows - reading the credits is an exceptional assembly of emerging talent. Here we have the new generation entry to underground leftfield queer cabaret performance, dancing into the footsteps of predecessors such as Lyndsay Kemp, The Cockettes and Michael Clark. This is why its so exciting to be in the audience at each new and evolving show.
All the way from the riots of bodies fooling around the floors of disrupted fashion parties to tours funded by fashion houses - this is laying the foundations to an uninhibited fantastic future. I'm so chuffed to have been witness to some of these moments ....... here ............ here .......... here ........ not to mention his kindness at a particular Pam Hogg fashion show when everyone else left me outside until the last person in grabbed me to run in with him.......... thankyou Theo ........ its that unwavering and natural confidence in doing what he does and disregard for intimidation, that's got him this far.

Thanks also to Bishi for giving me help and information to write this review!

CRY OUT - Visuals for The Theo Adams Company (Trailer Edit) from Matthew Stone on Vimeo.

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