Croydonites Festival review: Figs In Wigs, ‘Show Off’, Saturday 14th November at Matthew’s Yard

By - Tuesday 24th November, 2015

Paul Dennis visits Matthew’s Yard to see those sultry ‘Show Offs’, Figs in Wigs

Photo by CroydoNites Festival, used with permission.

There was something nagging me all evening, during the Croydonites Festival appearance of Figs in Wigs doing their ‘Show Off’ show at Matthew’s Yard. It wasn’t the Wigs themselves – well, it was, but not in the way that you might think. Partly it was due to their being a quintet. And having drawn you in on this, I’m going to leave you in suspense about the who and the why until later.

I’ll say straight away that I liked Figs in Wigs a lot. Some stuff worked better than others, but as a sort of visual concept album it hung together well. The ‘warm up’ consisting of Carly Simon’s ‘You’re So Vain’ was a clever introduction of what was to come, the ‘Show Off’ thesis of self and social media obsession was brilliantly observed and in some ways quite chillingly executed. The mobile phone selfie dance was so accurately portrayed that it went beyond parody and became unnerving.

An art lecture shifts seamlessly into a psychotic marketing pitch

We’ve all seen them: people risking life and limb (not always their own) trying to keep up with social media while at the same time walking down a busy street. It wasn’t just the excellent, well-executed choreography: it was the earnest expressions and big business suits that totally aced it.

The Figs do love a pun and a bit of wordplay, and that was a continuing theme, with lots of sly cultural cross references thrown in. For example, the transmogrification of faces to faeces during the selfie lecture echoed the knowing interchange of heinous, highness, and anus in the film ‘Wayne’s World’.

But it wasn’t all deep and meaningless. There was enough superficiality to keep you belly laughing as well. The enthusiastic gurning (mere ‘mugging’ doesn’t do it justice), the disturbing costume changes, the circus routine made slapstick and hazardous by a small stage, the art lecture that somehow seamlessly shifted into a psychotic marketing pitch where management bon mots were thrown like confetti.

Yes, with Figs in Wigs you don’t need an epiphany, but it helps.

Far too much make-up and far too few clothes – hell, what’s not to like?

Taken at their most superficial level of five girls messing around, the Figs are entertaining enough. But there’s a lot more there. Nothing is accidental. These are knowing girls, the black sheep aunties your mother warned you about. Wearing far too much make up and far too few clothes – hell, what’s not to like?

And I like people who play with language too, and these ‘Merry Merkins’ do it from start to finish, including their name. Why Figs? Read the DH Lawrence poem of the same name and all will be revealed.

In the greatest showbiz comedy tradition the Figs signed off with a song – not just one but several in fact. Hints of Laurie Anderson and hints of – eventually I got it – the other famous fivesome that had been nagging at me – also lovers of a good whacky costume – subversive, knowing, entertaining – Devo.

Come back soon ladies!

Paul Dennis

Paul Dennis

Paul Dennis is the editor of Total Sea Fishing magazine, and moved to Croydon in 2011. An award-winning journalist, he has worked on angling titles for much of his career, including 16 years as deputy editor of Angler's Mail. A regular freelance contributor for a wide array of non-angling-related titles, author of two books on angling and a widely-followed authority on the subject, he's enjoying life as an adoptive Croydonian.

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