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Hilum by Les Antliaclastes: ICA London International Mime Festival Review

This puppetry performance was conceived by Patrick Sims and is performed at the ICA as part of the London International Mime Festival 2011. It is the first production from Les Antliaclastes, and features a nightmarish tale of scullery dwelling gremlins.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Les Antliaclastes by Stephanie Thieullent
Les Antliaclastes by Stephanie Thieullent.

Hilum opens with the ominous popping of corn, stealthily reaching a crescendo before the pan jerks off stage to reveal an oversized scullery into which emerges a gremlin fairy creature. It’s like a creepy abandoned nursery of the netherworld, with recognisable objects and sounds mutated into the stuff of children’s nightmares. Almost immediately I fear for the dreams of the young children seated in front of us.

An array of wonderful grotesque puppets tumble and play, their strings pulled by the humans that tower above them in creamy lace outfits that resemble nightgowns. Their faces are covered, crocheted protrusions dangling trunk-like as they bend forward over their proteges, interacting with and manipulating them at the same time.

Les Antliaclastes by Gareth A Hopkins
Les Antliaclastes by Gareth A Hopkins.

But in this strange world full of curiously humanoid critters it is not the giant ogres that control the tale – such as there is one – but the rhythm of the washing machine cycles, underpinned by an evocative soundtrack. From crackling bleeps, to old time lullabies and the delicate tinkling of a glockenspiel (as a pathetic little mermaid creature made from pearly buttons meets its death) the music is an integral part of the atmosphere.

Hilum by Gemma Smith
Hilum by Gemma Smith.

Hilum by Abigail Daker
Hilum by Abigail Daker.

Towards the denouement things take a more surreal turn still, with the washing machine upending itself in a frenzy to reveal a furry trapdoor which gives birth to a baby washing machine covered in a placenta like ooze. A real man appears with a loud toy gun, a large humanoid skull spins grinning inside the washing machine. A huge chicken creature strides on stage as a snapping oversized finger clatters crazily agains the walls.

Les Antliaclastes by Gareth A Hopkins
Les Antliaclastes by Gareth A Hopkins.

As the shutters close on this bizarre otherworld I feel oddly bemused. Hilum by Les Antliaclastes is a beautifully conceived project but with no real outcome, other than the guarantee of some very odd dreams, for adults and children alike.

Nevertheless, as we admire the stage shutters on our way out I feel very glad that creative endeavours such as Hilum are staged during events like the London International Mime Festival. We are lucky indeed to live in this place and in these times, where creativity can be expressed in so many different and unique ways.

Hilum shutters ICA
Hilum shutters ICA
Hilum shutters ICA
The wonderfully decorated stage shutters for Hilum at the ICA.

Hilum was put together by puppeteer Patrick Sims and runs until Wednesday 26th January 2011 at the ICA as part of the London International Mime Festival. You can read another good review of this show by Matt Trueman on Carousel of Fantasies. The Mime Festival continues until 30th January 2011 – find out about other events here.


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One Response to “Hilum by Les Antliaclastes: ICA London International Mime Festival Review”

  1. [...] one of the puppets from a show at the ICA and you can read Amelia’s review here. It looks and sounds intriguing, creepy and slightly surreal and I would love to see [...]

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