Secret Garden Party 2012: Tax Deductible’s Never Ever Land TheatreCultureMusic
Tax Deductible and Secret Garden Party have always been buddies. Every year, Tax Deductible Theatre Company venture from London to Cambridge with their band of Shakespearean players, acrobats, comedians, poets and musicians to cause a Ruckus. This year was definitely no exception, with a veritable array of incredible acts (and workshops!) at the Never Ever Land Theatre, compared by the incomparable brawling gent Renard Worthington-Foulfellow.
Pulling by far the greatest crowd on Friday night was an old Tax Deductible favourite, Shitfaced Shakespeare. The premise is simple: a performance of Shakespeare (this weekend the appropriately intoxicating Midsummer Night’s Dream) with one entirely shitfaced player. Audience participation always a must at the Never Ever Land Theatre, the audience are asked – no, encouraged – to appeal to their natural and entirely irresistible sadistic side. A gong, a whistle and an air horn are handed out (can you guess where this is going?) At the sound of which the drunken thespian is handed another beer to down onstage. Prepare for the fourth wall to be smashed apart before your eyes – or possibly over your head if you’re foolish enough to sit in the vom-zone.
The Never Ever Land Theatre makes a playground out of the stage and never leaves anybody out, not even the fat kids. It’s come one, come all, bring your brains and your beers. This weekend, a lucky few got to meet the only two remaining citizens of Goodyearia and learn the customs and beliefs of this long-lost sunken civilisation. The motto of the people of Goodyearia: “We’re trying really hard.” This involved lots of pretending to be a monster and hugging strangers, two festival staples, I’m sure you’ll agree. The Matey Institute brought SGP the phenomenon that is One Hour Plays. A play written, cast, directed, all the props, costumes, and set created, in one hour before your very eyes and with 100% audience input. The Matey Institute, under the leadership of their parsimonious director, will create your play. And if the lady who made the owl prop is reading this (you know who you are): bravo!
So, after exuding all that energy, you probably want to sit down – the weather got warm eventually. Well, that’s ok too! Write a play (you geniuses, you) and then watch Ed Muir teabag gravity with his Chinese Pole act. Or come and listen to Mixy and Mr Grist (aka Dead Poets) make normal English words seem like Christmas gravy, your favourite armchair and sex all rolled into one (wow, what a mental image) with their rap-battle-winning, lady-killer spoken word.
Then there’s Ruckus. Ruckus is your birthday. Ruckus is Christmas. Ruckus has Pass the Parcel. Ruckus has meat limbo (that’s limbo with meat, sorry vegans). And lots and lots of talc, smoke and streamers. You want Ruckus in your life. That is all.
But, what about the music? Wasn’t there a headliner? We think we heard something about them somewhere?
On Sunday night Caravan Palace jingled onto the Grand Stage to close Secret Garden Party 2012 with their hot, round, sexy electro swing. The bold and cheeky vocals of teeny tiny Sonia Fernandez Velasco soared on track Brotherswing, demonstrating a powerful but enigmatically original vocal talent. The French six-piece seemed barely contained by the vast stage, seemingly a single being of constant frantic movement, matched only by the vast crowd.
If you can get through a Caravan Palace set without jumping into crazed, careless, spinning dancing you are officially a robot (but not a robot who dances the robot, obviously). There is something perfectly infectious in the almost psychic timing of this blend of beautiful gypsy swing and echoing house. It’s disorder in skilful balance – an auditory tower of tarot cards.
By Sunday night the mud had dried, the sky was clear above the Grand Stage and Caravan Palace was the perfect last hurrah for SGP 2012. In the morning, trains from Huntingdon and Cambridge would be packed with muddy, sunburnt gardeners on their way back to the concrete realities of home. But on Sunday evening, the weekend came together in a crystallised swing dream that would slowly, gently, deliver everyone back to the real world.