The World Mouse Plague

The World Mouse Plague


The Sabre Dance is rattling the speakers in what used to be a lecture room for veterinary students and two men, dressed up as mice, are chasing each other hither and yon.

If I say the two men are Jon Haynes and David Woods (aka Ridiculusmus) then that image will seem reassuringly par for their course. That course veers left-field into the realms of absurdity, into atrocious panto-punning, before cramming in mouthfuls of biscuits and spouting a surprising number of astute comments on our age.

There is not a plot, really: more a cat's-cradle of overlapping themes: genocide is one - pest control is out to eradicate the mice, because the owner wants his venue back so as an arts activist can stage his immersive-headphone-experimental experience for Fringe-goers. I lost count of how many different characters Haynes and Woods slipped in and out of at the drop of an accent, the tone of a voice. There are other droppings ... pesky mice.

These antics will not be to everybody's taste, or sense of humour. But do not be fooled by the hand-knitted look of the comedy (or the costumes). What plagues the world is hate propaganda, the politics of eradication - how do you get rid of poverty? - and the appalling amount of bad experimental theatre-making that chases its own tail.

Ridiculusmus, bless 'em, chase each other's tales, producing comedy mayhem full of astute observations and wicked spoofery.

Ends August 24


Institut Francais D'Ecosse

Down in the basement, something is stirring echoes of the old regimes: not just that of Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania, but of the Barnum and Bailey sideshows that invited the public to gawp at improbable freaks of nature - bearded ladies, for instance.

So the first joke in Antiquithon lies in the name of the company behind it - Compagnie des Femmes a barbe. Enter Aurelie de Cazanove and Gwen Aduh in the guise of the odd-ball sister and brother forced to flee from Romania.

The siblings now earn their crust touting a few bizarre objects salvaged from their late grandfather's treasured cabinet of curiosities. Grandad, it seems, had a flair for genetic modification and surgical experimentation, as well as being a dab hand at taxidermy. His grandchildren have a flair for comedy.

What is really spooky-sinister, here, is not what lies inside the cabinets - you could Photoshop yourself into scarier oddities in a trice. It is our appetite for the penny dreadfuls, when real life provides the tuppeny-coloured horrors, Ceaucescu being one.

Ends August 23