Desire Caught by the Tail Review

Bread and Roses 17 – 20 August
V22 Gallery 21 August
Bow Arts 25 – 26 August
Reviewed by Claire Roderick

Award-winning company LUXE’s production of Pablo Picasso’s Desire Caught by the Tail is a curate’s egg of a piece. A curiosity rather than a thing of beauty.
Picasso’s play is absurd, surreal and has no discernible plot. With characters called Bigfoot, Tart and the Onion and PA introductions of each part’s title (“The dismemberment of Bigfoot and the cannibalisation of lust” was particularly memorable), the main themes of the play seem to be hunger, lust and loss. I think.

I did begin to think I wasn’t intelligent enough to be in the audience after the very abrupt ending, but, walking out, one lady admitted that she hadn’t understood a single sentence, and the floodgates of befuddlement opened. The general consensus summed up by “That Picasso, he was having a laugh, wasn’t he?”

Director Cradeaux Alexander’s decision to rotate the roles around the (very game) cast of  four adds to the confusion. Simple props held by the actors show which role they are playing, but rather than make an artistic point, it instead highlighted some weak links in the cast. (Although I am sure that the stumbles will smooth out during the run.)

There are some wonderful poetic lines – “I lit the candle of sin with the match of her charms” and some weirdly hypnotic moments  – monkeys chomping nonchalantly on carrots, and it could well be genius, or a genius taking the mickey.

Part 3 – the edible aspects of lustful musings sees Bigfoot waxing lyrical about the Tart as the cast cut cake and distribute it to the audience. Apparently I was not alone in suffering cake anxiety during this scene. The poor actor could have been reading the telephone directory as we went through jealousy – they have cake!, self-pity – why does everyone have cake but me?,and finally joy – I HAVE my cake. One lady even stopped a passing actor to ask her for a fork! So I suppose that if hunger is a theme, then we actually understood that bit. Phew.

The charmingly shambolic props and design make the production feel like an art school presentation, and it is all very reminiscent of video installations that have puzzled me in galleries.

Perhaps that’s where this belongs.
But then there wouldn’t be cake.
I understood the cake.