If you're looking to see something decidedly different over the Bank Holiday Weekend, Uncanny Valley at the Hen and Chickens Theatre is definitely worth a look-in. This show, a hit on the Brighton Fringe, is a collaboration between storytelling musicians Spacedog and Victorian wordsmith Professor Elemental.
This is not your ordinary common-or-garden pub theatre. Spacedog (Sarah and Jenny Angliss) start off by describing an abandoned toy rabbit that they rescued (an issue Londonist is well aware of) before delving into the titular scientific theory of empathy and asking: what happens when things appear too human? And it is there that their tale really begins... Freakshow photos, torchsongs, a disembodied head and a theremin are used to stunning effect as they ratchet up the tension. Spacedog are far scarier than the much-hyped Ghost Stories and generate the kind of gore-free spinechilling terror that mainstream cinema seems to have forgotten.
Professor Elemental, a steampunk rapper who would not have been out of place at this year's Chap Olympiad, comes on like Mike Skinner possessed by Lewis Carroll. He spews poetry and rhymes fast and fluid with stories of child kidnap and animal hybrids alongside paeans to tea and just how splendid everything is. He’s loveably bonkers and makes a good contrast to Spacedog’s more mordant fare.
Both parts of this show are excellent in their own way. We can see this being a word-of-mouth wonder that will hopefully come back sooner rather than later. If there are awards for bravery in the field of theatre, this show deserves a Victoria Cross and a pat on the back. Unfortunately, we are only able to hand out this message from the front row: see it if you can before it disappears back down the A23.
Uncanny Valley is playing tonight and tomorrow. Tickets (£8.50) are available online or on the door.
The trailer to the show can be seen here.
For a taster of Professor Elemental, see below: