It’s a kind of absurdist sketch show, perhaps. Twisted fragments from the strange occurrences of everyday life in restaurants, meta-theatre jokes on the methods of scene transitions, and a feast of food puns; this young company, Figs In Wigs, seem to draw their inspiration from anywhere and everywhere, but mostly food.
I discovered Figs In Wigs last year and fell a little bit in love with their eccentricity, their French Yé-yé inspired dancing, and their vaguely nihilistic portrayal of this bizarre world. So I arrived with some expectations. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the wacky costumes remained: the androgynous wigs of course; the garish trousers; and each performer supporting a Frida Kahlo eyebrow.
The dancing, although not always as precise and in synch, involves fast, quirky, hand jive routines. The final dance certainly lived up to expectations, although the cast emerging in sequined shirts and beige leggings made them appear as if they were naked from the waist down. Confident and performed with bravura, the piece had all sorts of claps, slaps, and rhythmic stomping as they all perform with mask-like, straight faces. It’s clever, witty, and wonderfully irreverent.
They’ve perhaps been doing some reading up on theatre theory, using one such reading - that they’ve perhaps turned into a mockery - of a drama technique book as a voiceover to a difficult scene transition; a dance sequence has ended with the performers lying awkwardly on their chairs and the voice from above seems to speak to the artists, not us, offering advice on what to do next. It’s cheeky and endearing, embracing a stumbling block of many shows. Indeed the awkwardness of each transition is gleefully lapped up, particularly in the cases where the stage must be swept, with a sigh and a knowing rolling of the eyes to the audience. It all remains a little unrefined, but this plays on their charm, silliness, and originality.
Last year Figs in Wigs was associated with Queen Mary University Theatre Company; this year they present themselves as an independent troop. Figs In Wigs demand that you see them on their own terms, which are quite different from anyone else’s - but it’s definitely worth tilting your head from side to side to see things from their angle and their rhythm.