THE DEMON BARBERS – The Lock-In (Safecracker Pictures DVD SP059)

THE DEMON BARBERS The Lock-InHaving witnessed the ‘Celtic’ hit Riverdance on its opening night in London in 1995 and being absolutely blown-away (as was the sold-out audience) by the effervescent amalgamation of dance techniques I wondered if there might ever be a British ‘folk’ equivalent. Well, for me that long wait has now been answered with The Demon Barbers folk/hip hop theatre production “The Lock-In” formerly known as Time Gentlemen Please. Now, maybe it’s just me but the opening scene with its American Werewolf In London type pub set-piece being visited by three hip-hop dancers (and a particularly flash back-flip by one of them) perhaps seems a bit contrived as does the pantomime-ish rubbing of a pewter tankard in place of the obligatory genie’s lamp but bear with me, enter three clog dancers and the scenario is almost complete. As with Riverdance a battle of dance techniques ensues although this does appear slightly limited to the clash of hip-hop and traditional styles (Sword Dance, Rapper and Morris etc) and before anyone judges me of being ignorant about the other styles of modern dance technique I hold my hands up as accused. The inclusion of Grace Savage’s human beat-box is an interesting twist although I’m not sure about Ben Griffith’s ‘Jasmine’ the pub ‘landlady’…far too camp for my tastes and for those not into the Morris tradition it seems a pretty unusual character to include and a major distraction (for me anyway) from the rest of the performance. The song “Captain Ward” is a nice addition and the band carry this off with aplomb which leaves me somewhat surprised that they didn’t include quite a few more songs for good measure. While we’re on the subject of the musicians I was particularly impressed by Bryony Griffith’s fiddle playing and her understanding of the intricacies of ‘Morris’ tempos…so much more than just 4/4 or 6/8 rhythms! As for the sound engineering by Andy Bell and filming directed by Nigel Horne this is exemplary work and carries over to the excellent interview with Damien Barber and the other extra features. Even if you’re not particularly into dance but just into the mechanics of how a theatrical production evolves I’d suggest you purchase a copy of this DVD.

PETE FYFE

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