The Dirty Old Folkers Panto + Jermaine Bernard @ The Hare and Hounds, Birmingham, UK – 14 December 2012Posted by Wayne on Friday Dec 14, 2012 Under Charity, Folk, Pantomime
Bain of the bankers’ bloated bonus, no succor to the politicians’ humbug, the pioneers of alt.punk ‘Inappropriate Folk’, The Dirty Old Folkers, celebrated their fifth year of Yuletide mayhem with a singularly alternative interpretation of the evergreen childrens’ pantomime favourite, Dick Whittington – the dramatic conceit being predicated, presumably, on the childish audience comprising mostly of The Midwich Cuckoos. (And, that might explain the Boris Johnson platinum wigs later on!).
Yet again, blowing wind to caution and subverting theatrical staging conventions, the Dirty Old Folkers tore down the metaphorical, impersonal ‘fourth-wall’ and drew the audience in to their alt.reality Panto fantasy world with inimitable panache and derring-do. But first…
Local singer/songwriter, Jermaine Bernard, judged the evening’s mood perfectly with his engaging stage presence and short set of covers and accomplished and alluring self-penned songs. Think of a vocal brew of Joan Armatrading and José Feliciano together with a dexterously fluid guitar style and you’ll begin to get the picture. A name to note in your 2013 diaries for sure.
‘Inappropriate Folk’ or is that rather – In an opiate smoke? The latter might go some way to explain the following – ‘Get out of the God-damn way, boy!’ barn-storming hoe-down medley of political anger mismanagement and traditional carols – with some of them in the right key. No mercy given to red-tape jobsworths, Rupert Murdoch or The Daily Mail’s brimstone-baiting hypocrisy. Look around you, Dave. Our ‘Big Society’ is in deep trouble. Bloody skivers! But hey, let us shake off those shackle of woe because the roar of the grease-paint and the smell of the crowd meant it was time for The DOF to show us their Dick.
Quite how a David Hockney backdrop image of a flight of locks set the scene for Dick Whittington remained a mystery but all’s explained when ‘Ozzie’ enters to ‘War Pigs’ and pleads to an utterly convincing ‘Fairy’ Godmother, Clare Balding, that he needs a job, sorry, ‘F**king’ job.
For reasons best explained by the cast in later GCSE supplementary study-notes we saw Boris (and mini-me Boris) Johnson in fright wigs.
The plot hinged on a dastardly plan to steal the backing tape for Paul McCartney’s song at the Olympics. ‘Rat’, worth all his weight in Warfarin, boxes all his Plague-ridden ticks with dastardly menace whilst later, a very slinky cat appears together with a slightly confused two-legged horse.
Best leave it there really, wouldn’t want to spoil the ending. A caustically apposite finale of ‘Got To Pick A Pocket Or Two’ (choke on your tax-lite Starbucks latte, Osborne!) made for a splendid climax.
And, even nicer, a considerable few quid was raised in the raffle (donated prizes from local business) for the Longwill School for the Deaf, Northfield. A Thespian smorgasbord of festive fun.