Monday, 22 December 2008

Mikelangelo & Undine Francesca - Battersea Arts Centre

Mikelangelo & Undine Francesca
Review: Honor Bayes
‘Prepare to be plunged into a netherworld of dreams and desire as these transcontinental lovebirds weave together a collection of brooding, sensual and darkly humorous songs and stories for your delectation.’

Sitting on bean bags in the BAC’s already bohemian cafe atmosphere, as I bite the head off a ginger bread man given to me by a lady in grey, I realise that I have truly been plunged into the weird and wonderful world of Mikelangelo and Undine Francesca. Like a strange marriage between one of Dracula’s wives and Elvis post speed and hamburger binge, these two extraordinary and hypnotic performers deliver an hour’s worth of sensual songs, interweaving darkling stories with a rock-a-billy beat in a smooth flamenco style.

With the constant hum of chatter in the bar behind, they never have to fight for focus or struggle to be heard, Mikelangelo’s relaxed fruity baritone and Undine’s undulating flicks, shimmers and wide eyed stares succeed in holding the audiences’ attention with such a potent force that at times you forget to blink.

They tell us stories of dancing with devils, step by step, hoof by hoof, of a 50 foot woman who blocks out the sun and of Mikelangelo’s strange birth – hatching out of an egg which has fallen from a tree sheltering his copulating parents from the elements. Such is the depth and breadth of their imagination that even Tim Burton would be proud to call this evening his own, and the proceedings definitely have a strong whiff of Tom Waits about them. However these are definitely two unique performers and they compliment each other perfectly, sparring with one another through a mixture of piecing humour and desperate seriousness, they coax you into their world and although you may feel slightly unsettled by its dark sensual surroundings, one feels strangely proud to have been chosen to be invited into it.

Performance artists working on a new musical piece The Honeymoon Suite, Mikel and Undine are definitely two performers to follow as they work in tandem with the BAC in the future. They throw themselves into this work with a skillful strangeness and eccentric vitality which is immensely enjoyable to behold and I for one am anxious to see a more fully formed version of their Kabaret Noir. As it is, this performance is an event which could be described as wearing its heart on its sleeve, but actually its a performance that takes its heart and sews it into the arm of a black lace accessory and it’s all the more wonderful for it.
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