Revolutionary Arts Ensemble: Hieronymus Bosch

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12 October, Commoners Green
Fringe in the Stings
By Rosheen Fitzgerald

No one can quite agree on the meaning of Hieronymus Bosch’s medieval triptych, The Garden of Earthly Delights. Is it a cautionary tale denouncing the perils of sins of the flesh…with the accusatory finger pointed squarely at the descendants of Eve? Or is it a celebration of unbridled carnal pleasure, a solid fuck you to the mores of the day?

Bosch himself was rumoured to be part of a loose association known as the heresy of the Free Spirit, who posited that pleasure and piety were not mutually exclusive but the expression of the former could be done in the service of the latter. Were the Revolutionary Arts Ensemble knocking about the Rhine in the thirteenth century, you can bet they would have been card carrying members.

A full house files past a blown up section of Bosch’s work to a space that has been adorned with streamers, random plush letters, bells and whistles. There’s a giddiness in the air. A cast of players clad in long fringed caftans take the stage and unleash that great big Revolutionary Arts sound that those in the know have come to love.

There are whomping horns, clanging guitars, an epic battle on double drum kits. There are masks – improbable, impractical creations that harken to the titular work – and Monty Python meets Len Lye animation. It’s big and showy and humorous and incredibly well executed. The crowd laps it up and screams for more.

An ebullient finale sees a giant fan, which has lurked in the background for the duration, spring to life animating strategically placed streamers and props, quite literally blowing our minds. It’s part Pink Floyd, part Spinal Tap, all Fringe, charmingly hand made with a love that’s too good not to share around.

 

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