We have seen many, many different performances as part of the Camden Fringe and were beginning to get slightly blase...then we went to Camden People's Theatre for Headlangue Theatre's marvellously vintage mime piece Les Enges de l'Enfer (Angels of the Underground). In two words: utterly charming.
The Paris-based visual, physical theatre company have drawn on the etiquette and bizarre behaviour of the Underground - or in this case, le Metro. There is plenty of visual slapstick involving huge rucksacks, getting groped by strangers, peddlers pushing trinkets on to the public and a twitchy cleaner with a distinct hatred for litterbugs. There is also a very traditional 'unmoveable suitcase' set piece, a section involving poker-faced commuters Vogueing their hearts out in the commuter crush and a truly delightful opening sequence performed entirely by the feet of the cast and providing more laughs than words could.
Despite the Metro setting placing it firmly in the late 20th century, the performance is timeless, speechless, enjoyable for young, old, theatre-lovers and theatre-doubters of all backgrounds and languages. There are little stories told in a simple backwards glance, there is grand sweeping romance as the cleaner pushes his broom around the baglady haunting his station, there is so much charm and delightful, simple nonsense in the performance, even the most mime-resistant person would melt at the monochrome cast pelting around the stage.
We found ourselves positively beaming when we all stood up to be the congregation at an uproarious wedding (that ends badly...) If only those 'living statues' littering Covent Garden were half as good as these Angels of the Underground, we would spend a lot more time there. Instead, we shall just sit on the Tube and dream of this charming French theatre company bringing this great mime show back to London...