Take a trip through the valleys and national stereotypes of Wales in Frankie Fox’s performance – a theatre/live art/music gig hybrid. Each song on the setlist is delivered by a different host, Frankie Fox in different incarnations. Lady GoGo Goch is saved for the finale; in the meantime there is Lady Cymru, Lady Teatowel, Lady Delilah and Lady Bassey – all characters drawn from some aspect of Welsh culture. Costume changes accompany the appearance of each new character.
Eerie music is built slowly with loop pedals. Bespoke instruments, like pieces of slate tapped with a stick, produce unusual textures that match the many faces of Fox. While her face is expressive, her voice is more so. It ranges from the controlled vibrato of an opera singer to glissandi and shrieks. Sometimes she sings, sometimes she’s just making noises.
Fox combines silliness with darker, creepier elements, just as she combines gentle music with more ferocious soundscapes, growls and hisses. It’s not always entirely pleasant to listen to – nor is it meant to be – but a couple of songs, particularly an acoustic cover of Be Still My Soul from Finlandia, create the kind of mood suited to taking an extended blink and just listening.
The different moods collide in an unsettling cover of Delilah. The energy and the vim of the original are replaced with a horror-infused edginess, rightly drawing out the darkness from this eerie song: ‘she opened the door…she stood there laughing’.
All the stereotypes are pointed at and twisted into something darkly bizarre. At one point Fox gets on all fours and dons a sheepskin fleece while bleating.
Noises from the instruments and loops overpower Fox’s voice, so when she directs herself away from my side of the audience it’s difficult to hear her. But, in a way, that doesn’t really matter – she speaks almost exclusively in Welsh.
The cocktail tables and the division of the performance into different songs gives the impression of a gig more than a piece of theatre; the costumes and characters make this a visual and vocal tableau of Welsh culture.