Pendulums Bargain Emporium

Maison Foo

Maison Foo

Pleasance Dome

From 31 July 2013 to 26 August 2013

Rating: ****

Review by Robin Strapp

This is an age of rampant consumerism where we are encouraged to spend and to buy now and pay later. Maison Foo tackles the effect that large commercial conglomerates have on small businesses.

So welcome to Pendulums Bargain Emporium, a swanky department store where three smarmy sales assistants are encouraging the audience to purchase goods with discounts and freebies. They cleverly use white-wheeled counters that move into the audience laden with tempting merchandise.

This retail therapy is in complete contrast to the story of The Elves and the Shoemaker that is juxtaposed with the life in the department store.

We meet the shoemaker himself, a scruffy tramp-like character who plays the accordion and listens to the story on a tape recorder.

But the shoemaker and his wife are finding life hard as customers prefer to buy cheap imported products rather than hand crafted shoes.

The story is beautifully and inventively told with some delightful songs, exceedingly clever props, a game show conveyor belt and a mannequin head representing the wife. There is some very effective use of puppets and incredible shadow craft.

Bizarrely we also meet the Old Woman Who Lives in a Shoe whose babies are sent to work on the production line making ties to sell in the store, the use of mini-sewing machines was inspired.

The four actors Bethany Sheldon, Kathryn Lowe, Matt Marks and Morgan Brind perform with zest and total commitment in this funny, entertaining show that also has a dark sinister edge to it.