When I heard that David Shrigley had written an opera, I was slightly worried. "Worried" is perhaps a strong word. I was concerned! Yes, that'll do. I was concerned that Shrigley was moving into wanky territory.
Now, if you're familiar with Shrigley's work you'll know that he is one of the least pretentious artists on the scene. His drawings and short animations are charmingly rough, almost cave-painting-like depictions of his subjects. I've always thought that Shrigley was a bit of a cheeky fellow, amusing his audience with inconsequential little sketches which reminded us all (well, me at least) of how we looked at the world when we were little.
That's what draws me to his work. It's a bit wholesome and just plain nice. Where was I? Oh aye; concern! I didn't want to see his stuff lose it's charm in a new medium; the stage.
It didn't (lose it's charm, that is).
This 'sort-of opera' was perfectly formed and wholly Shrigleyesque. It was smart yet silly; funny whilst moving and at times, displayed certain elements of genius. In short, the show follows a bizarre television cookery show, at times directly engaging with the audience. It teased with elements of pantomime, but didn't quite go there (thankfully). June Spoon (Pauline Knowles) and Philip Fork (Stewart Cairns), the hosts of the show are setting about to prepare a meal for the terrifying antagonist Mr Granules (puppeteered by Tobias Wilson), who's rumoured to have devoured BABIES!
It all goes wrong of course and the meal goes to shit. Spoon and Fork join forces with their dessert (Banana Custard, pre-custard) to salvage the evening and after several visits to an ecclesiastical butcher with an impressive falsetto voice (Peter Van Hulle), a ridiculously moving lament from a depressed, alcoholic egg (Gavin Mitchell) and attempts to save the day by a cocksure Latino banana (Martin McCormick) - everything gets a bit... well, I was going to say 'more bizarre' but that's a massive understatement. Let's just say, my favorite scene followed shortly thereafter and the audience were treated to a duet and dance by June Spoon and Shit. An actual shit, played by the always wonderful Gavin Mitchell.
Credit where it's due, Shrigley did a great job - as did composer David Fennessy who created a beautifully eerie tone reminiscent of Bernard Herrmann's score for Hitchcock's Psycho and not to forget director Nicolas Bone's overall surrealist approach as director of the piece. Well done, lads.
I emerged with a sore face from laughing/smiling.
I'd tell you to go and see it; but sadly Pass the Spoon ran for only three nights, from 17-19 November, 2011 at Glasgow's Tramway Theatre. I have it on good authority, that this won't be the last you'll hear of this 'sort-of opera'. Perhaps it'll come back. Perhaps it'll pop up somewhere down south, soon. Perhaps it might grace the stages of the South Bank. You've been warned.
If Ready Steady Cook shagged Come Dine With Me after smoking the pubic hairs of David Lynch, rolled up in the pages of Friedrich Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy - Pass the Spoon would be the love child from that wildly wonderful evening. A triumph.