"Shockheaded Peter" at the Piccadilly Theatre. 26th March '01.
Looking at Martyn Jaques and Ewan Hunter.
"Shockheaded Peter" is an adaptation of the German folk tales "Struwwlpeter", a collection of short rhymes and poems created during Hitler's regime to scare the child readers into behaving better. The recent adaptation is one that mixes comedy and surrealism with shock and horror.
Martyn Jacques, a member of the musical group 'The Tiger Lilies', was a remarkable character to watch and listen to. His treble voice accompanied with his large size was an irony in itself and added to the peculiarity of the play. His entrance, through a trap door DSC, was puppet-like as he was guided by Ewan Hunter (a character to be likened to the circus ringleader) to perform to the audience. His performance itself involved the audience with its very high standards. He has a beautiful voice and was accompanied well by his skill on his accordion.
The accordion is a strange instrument, as is the sound it produces; this, along with Jaques' bizarre hyperactive waddle, was fantastically involving for the audience as it is not something you would expect to see in everyday life.
Jacques was also made up with a caricatured white face. This produced a feeling of blankness as well as an odd image to see. His facial expressions were exaggerated, as was the play and general performance. This provided a route for the audience to associate with the melodrama in the rest of the play. 'The Tiger Lilies'' other role was to hold the performance together and provide a tuneful link between each story/poem/rhyme. The lyrics of the songs were taken from the original text and Jaques' performance drew the audience in as would a parent reading the stories to a child at bedtime.