Festival’s serious folly

And The Horse You Rode In On offers a “sequence of serious follies” for the Brighton Festival, explains director Paul Hunter who conceived the piece with Hayley Carmichael. The piece takes Told By An Idiot’s distinctive style in a new and unsettling direction. A dark comedy of ineptitude, it examines extreme acts of violence and the lengths people will go for their beliefs (Brighton Dome, Pavilion Theatre,, Brighton, until May 21). The production is presented as a sequence of follies, inspired by sources as eclectic as Gunter Grass, Hitchcock, Bugs Bunny and the sitcom Are You Being Served?

“We wanted a tagline for it, like you do with films really, and the idea of serious follies connected with the idea of people trying to do things that are deadly serious. In thought they are quite extreme and potentially violent, but they are also faintly ludicrous.

“The idea came up about four or five years ago when we were talking to another company at the time about potentially collaborating. Nothing came of it, but one of the conversations we had was that in Britain when people approach political stuff on stage, they tend to do so quite naturalistically in the form that it actually takes, like the Iraq inquiry, which is very valid.

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“But we thought what about if we did it in our style which is much more anarchic, much more visual and what about if we then brought that to bear on something more political.

“We had various sources. One of them was the Hitchcock film Sabotage, and we also looked at a couple of pages from a Gunter Grass novel, a satire of a time when people were protesting about a variety of things. We also took something about a 16th century theatrical troupe that were taken hostage in France by protestant terrorists.

“All these things became our starting points, about people that were at the point of no return; for whatever reason they were committed to commit a violent act. It’s about the powerlessness to stop anybody that has reached that point.”

A well-known rabbit attempts to stop an alien blowing up the earth; in a Berlin café, a professor pleads with her student not to commit an atrocious act; and in an infamous London department store, the weirdest ever episode of Are You Being Served? is about to begin…

Tickets on 01273 709709 or www.brightondome.org.