Deliciously dark. Gloriously grotesque. Consistently captivating: Les Enfants Terribles Theatre Company‘s productions encourage such praise with their original style and wonderfully twisted tales.
We caught up with producer James Seager as he prepared to bring his Terrible Infants back to the Fringe for more surreal, musical and – in some cases – macabre adventures.
“We’re bringing three of our shows to Edinburgh this year,” says James.
“It’s a restricted run – one of them is even only on for one night. But that’s been a deliberate choice in some ways.
“We’re always conscious of bringing back shows to the same audience – so this year, we wanted to come back with a mixture of favourites and new material too.”One of those favourites is most definitely The Terrible Infants, a brilliantly conceived and staged show of Roald Dahl-like morality tales performed by a talented troupe of visually striking performers, penned by the company’s artistic director Oliver Lansley
“Oliver was definitely inspired by things like A Nightmare Before Christmas,” says James.
“He wanted to create something which would appeal to adults and children, with a distinct vaudeville style and dreamlike mood.”
“Oliver stars in the show, and the rest of the cast are all actor / musicians. They love doing it, and hopefully that transfers to the audience.
“We last took The Terrible Infants to the Fringe two years ago,” he says, “and it had a great response. This year’s show is a slightly updated version, so hopefully it will go down just as well.”
It’s most certainly a show worth catching, and – having seen it in 2008 – we can testify to its charm and magic.Last year, Les Enfants Terrible treated us to something that – whilst similar in visual style – was a lot darker in tone. Ernest & The Pale Moon was a striking and gripping piece: a noir-ish horror story for a generation brought up on Tim Burton movies.
“We’ve just finished a three-month tour of Ernest,” says James. “It’s been very successful too, so we’re delighted at that.”
“Some Edinburgh venues can be a bit restricted when it comes to staging and lighting.
“This year, we’re at the Pleasance Grand; and we have a new lighting design for Ernest created by Paul Green – it’s added so much to it.”
With its greaspaint-caked characters and themes of moonlight and shadow, we are definitely looking forward to seeing this visually-updated version of Ernest & The Pale Moon – even if we have to watch it from between our fingers.
The company’s new show for Edinburgh sounds more intriguing still. For one night only, Les Enfants Terribles will perform The Vaudevillains.
“It’s a musical murder mystery,” says James. “It’s set in a Victorian music hall, where one evening the owner is found dead.”
“Through a series of flashbacks and backstories of the weird and wonderful acts – everything from knife throwers to cojoined triplets – we piece together exactly what happened on that fateful night.”
“It’s been created by the same designer and director as The Terrible Infants, but is definitely more adult in style.
“We’ve been inspired by the cabaret and burlesque movements, but very much wanted to set it in the Victorian music hall era – it’s very British in style, and should hopefully be an intriguing show for anyone who comes to see it.”
Based on previous shows and performances, The Vaudevillains is very near the top of our list of shows to check out. With the cabaret scene at a crest of popularity, Les Enfant Terribles’ characteristically dark take on the genre is impossible to resist.
“Our vision for that show is to have it as a residency in some site-specific venue – ideally a real old music hall.”
“After the Fringe, we’ll be taking it on an 8-week tour, so we do have high hopes for it and are looking forward to its Edinburgh reception.”
“We’ll also be knuckling down after Edinburgh in preparation for our 10th year celebrations.
“It’s been so exciting to see the company grow over the years. We’ve been so lucky too – we’ve got a cast and crew of around 40 people who are at the top of their game.”
Based on our experience of Les Enfants Terribles, we agree with his view here – though as he’s too modest to admit it, we’ll add that a great deal of their success is down to the company’s talent and vision into the bargain.
Over the last two years, this company has staged some of our favourite Fringe shows of all time; they have a knack of capturing popular tastes and audience’s appetites for something a little different, and do it with a charm that is practically impossible to resist.
So, we’re looking forward to meeting some old friends next month – and getting acquainted with some weird and wonderful new ones too…
You can buy tickets to all Les Enfants Terribles’ shows on The Pleasance website.