Aiming for boldly eclectic, Kneehigh Theater's The Wild Bride throws every artistic choice -- including the kitchen sink -- at its audience. Archetypal mythology is respun with stylized hipness, ethereality, puppetry, black humor, vaudevillian escapades, rhythm and blues music, tinged with Euro-Appalachian Anglo-Slavic-Arabic influences -- and lots of Tim Burton.
It's a valiant effort at avant-garde eclecticism that results in a barrage of clutter.
The Cornwall-based theatre company wowed me in '09 with its inventive, cinematic and tightly knit Brief Encounter at ACT.
But this time around, a little Ritalin wouldn't hurt. For all its panache, The Wild Bridefalls rather flat. Under Emma Rice's creative and hectic direction, the whole is somehow lesser than the sum of its parts.
The story begins with a Faustian bargain with the devil. Stuart McLaughlin's devil is a slippery rogue but none-too-menacing. Dressed in a dirt-poor man's long johns, (a la Tim Burton's Beetlejuice), or a shady, 1930s suit, this devil is part Brit, part bumpkin and more of a dirty varmint than a demon.