Pendulums Bargain Emporium
  • By Isla VT
  • |
  • 8th Aug 2013
  • |
  • ★★★

Loosely inspired by the fairy-tale ‘The Elves and the Shoemaker’, Pendulums Bargain Emporium explores, through puppetry, imaginative visual theatre and music, the impact that greed and our consumerist culture has on small businesses and on the rest of the world. Pendulums Bargain Emporium itself is a department store, clean, bright and fake, run by three sales assistants of the same quality. This is set to contrast strongly with the Shoemaker, who is scruffy, tramp-like and armed with an accordion. Facilitated by the shiny sales assistants, who multirole throughout (although the sales assistants are their primary role), the Shoemaker has his story told. Varied, colourful, bizarre, gaudy and surprising, Pendulums Bargain Emporium is quite an experience.

The play begins with sickeningly sweet shop assistants greeting the audience as customers, asking names, picking on apparel choices and trying to sell them various items. This was all rather amusing and set the scene of a department store excellently. Then enters the shoemaker, alone, he brings out a tape recorder and an accordion and his story begins, jumping between the glaringly shiny department store and the dull shabbiness of the shoemaker as it unfolds. It does so with inventive and humorous use of props and surprising moments of song and visual theatre. The cast effectively spun scenes of a nightmarish fairy-tale, colourful and upbeat but with the presence of a sinister undertone. Absurd, gaudy and irritatingly ridiculous at times, the cast often used impressive techniques to bring their stories to life, however, the greatest moments were let down by the weakest. Much as I was intrigued and entertained both by the inspired and the overall great performances, parts of the production veered too far into the crude, the gauche (not always were it was pertinent) and the slightly too absurd that rather undermined its other moments of excellence.

Half fairy-tale, half harsh reality and 100% ridiculous, Pendulums Bargain Emporium is entertaining - enough for me to say it’s worth the ticket price.

Reviews by Isla VT

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Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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Performances

The Blurb

...the high street store that offers more than you bargained for… A darkly comic and shameless shopping experience. Inventive visual theatre, puppetry and live music from creators of Edinburgh 2010 sell-out smash Memoirs of a Biscuit Tin.

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