The Cabinet of Living Cinema, Making Tracks, 5th August 2011, Rich Mix, London
Dixe Wills (Guardian Writer)
There’s something wonderfully old school about walking into a cinema and discovering that the score you’re about to hear is to be performed live. The instinctive reaction is to check your pockets for Strand cigarettes and a pension book just in case you’ve injudiciously stepped into a time warp. This is, after all, the Bethnal Green Road, where stranger things happen on a daily basis.
The Cabinet of Living Cinema’s take on this throw-back to the halcyon days of celluloid is one that wanders amiably through the no-man’s-land between the fully-fledged musical ensembles that once lurked in orchestra pits and the single Wurlitzer that emerged all stops blazing from the floor. Thus, the four Cabinet members – the line-up is fluid but it’s always a quartet – took their places on the floor, two to each side of the screen, and braced themselves for the opening credits as the lights went down.
Whirlygig Cinema’s Making Tracks events pitch together a dozen or so short films – the longest tonight is ten minutes, the briefest 27 seconds – by up and coming film-makers. Their original scores are stripped off and, with the vast majority of the films being dialogue-free affairs, the band is free to put its own interpretation of events unfolding above them.
Playing instruments not often heard together – to my knowledge even the thrusting girls and boys of the nu-folk movement haven’t yet experimented with a dulcimer/banjo/viola/swanny whistle combo – and instruments rarely if ever heard at all (toy car and various kitchen implements, anyone?), the Cabinet’s sound has unpredictability on its side.
This is probably just as well, because the films are pretty unpredictable too. Clowns come to life only to have breakdowns; a painter is harassed by his own chair; a farmer’s wife is avenged by a scarecrow. The highlight, however, is a more conventional piece: Gabriela Tropia’s Old House, a beautifully choreographed dance number set in an empty decaying building in Singapore.
Accompanying each miniature drama (some of which, admittedly, prove markedly more watchable than others), the Cabinet’s scores tended to creep up stealthily on the audience until we suddenly became aware that they were driving the action along at a gallop or lulling us craftily into a dream-like state, as appropriate.
There’s a pleasing dollop of Penguin Café Orchestra in there and, if you can imagine a stripped-down Stereolab with added flute, some of that too. The occasional joke is thrown in – when one of the films has a wind chime rattling, a door creaking and a chicken roasting, the appropriate sound effects are tossed into the mix with effortless aplomb. Time signatures career about from one film to the next as if 4:4 had never been invented, and there’s some jungle (the place, not the music) and a trill of jazzy rock thrown in for good measure.
With most of the films being the length of a pop song, by the end of the evening I felt as if I’d listened to a live performance of a concept album, albeit one with a concept dreamt up by a man half crazed by having lemons thrown at him by trained monkeys night and day for six weeks. If only more such albums were on the market, I can’t help feeling the world would be a better place.
Theatre Review: The Scotsman – New Work, New Worlds (Arches, Glasgow)
Published Date: 06 July 2010
By Joyce McMillan
NEW WORK, NEW WORLDS ****
Arches Theatre, Glasgow
IT’S the final night of the New Works, New Worlds event at the Arches and it’s good to report that after a subdued start, the annual festival of experimental work – curated by artistic director Suzi Simpson – is beginning to look much more like its feisty, fascinating self…Over in Arch 6, Kieron Maguire and his fellow musicians – on dulcimer, guitar, violin and percussion – simply ravish the audience with their Cabinet Of Living Cinema, which offers some wonderful mid-20th-century short films by Maya Deren, the Brothers Quay, and Andrei Khrjanovsky, which is made even more vivid by a 21st century musical accompaniment.
It’s possibly not theatre. But it’s living performance, lyrical, passionate and searching; impossible to forget.
Forest Fringe Microfestival at BAC, London SW1
Published Date: April 8, 2010
By Donald Hutera ****
Over four hours I had six gem-like experiences, starting in a pristine white room (for Melanie Wilson’s strange, dreamy The View From Here, in which an audience member has their eyes bandaged before being gently tucked up, with headphones on, in a hospital bed) and ending with a concert by the multi-talented Kieron Maguire and three colleagues from the Cabinet of Living Cinema to accompany screenings of a handful of sensational avant-garde and animated films.
Reviews: Kieron Maguire
Theatre Review: Time Out London, The Little Angel theatre
The Paper Cinema, King Pest and Night Flyer
Published Date: 31 March 2009
By Benjamin Davis ****
Benjamin Davis catches up with the latest Paper Cinema double bill, ‘King Pest’/'The Night Flyer’ at the Little Angel.
On paper, this sounds rubbish. Anyone want to come see a film lacking all the basics – script, actors, film stock? But with great restriction comes great beauty, and so it proves with this magical offering from BAC-supported artists Paper Cinema.
At its essence – and really there is nothing more than essence in this 45-minute dream – we have a camera, before which the ‘puppetteers’ Nick Rawling and Sarah Cuddon parade a series of Rawling’s card illustrations, accompanied by Kieron Maguire’s beautiful viola and flamenco guitar playing. The criss-crossing illustrations create three theatrical dimensions, with the fore, middle and backgrounds constantly in flux. In ‘King Pest’, we are transported to Edgar Allan Poe’s plague-infested town, and born away by love and the sea, while in ‘The Night Flyer’ a magical highland train journey transports us across the sky and through the key-hole. The flux portrays motion to spellbinding effect, but the whole piece might be aided by longer sequences of stasis. I was reminded of how the BBC’s animated ‘Hamlet’, which used similar techniques, managed to create the required moments of solitude and stillness.
Theatre Review – The Guardian
Edinburgh festival: The Paper Cinema, Night Flyer
Forest Fringe, Edinburgh
August 12th 2008
Lyn Gardner ****
Theatre often trumpets its liveness as one of its major virtues, but most shows feel so nailed down and slick that there seldom seems any risk involved at all. That’s certainly not the case with this fragile and beautiful work in progress. It is being presented, free, every night at Forest Fringe by Paper Cinema with a live musical accompaniment; like a great deal of the most interesting theatre work at the moment, it is messy and frayed and unafraid to walk that fine line between being a bit rubbish and totally brilliant.
Paper Cinema create intricate, hand-drawn, black-and-white cut-out figures and scenes, which are then projected on to a screen. It’s so lo-fi it’s practically Victorian, and it has the make-do dash of a nursery entertainment for grownups. Which is all part of the charm.
There are two shows being told here: a version of Edgar Allan Poe’s plague story, King Pest, and an original tale about a brother’s attempt to rescue his abducted sister from a speeding train. There’s a heart-stopping, perspective-surprising moment when the brother appears to pedal on his bicycle across the sky in pursuit of the Express. The pleasure here is not just that the animations are both sinister and enchanting, or that the wonderful music gives the whole thing the feel of a quirky silent movie, but also that you can see how the show is being made right before your eyes. The mechanics are fully revealed, and being able to observe the process in no way diminishes what you see but rather enhances it.