Avanti Display, Sic Transit Gloria

Review in Issue 9-2 | Summer 1997

Commissioned for the Streets of Brighton Festival, Sic Transit Gloria was the story of two trickster angels – played by James McPherson and Bill Palmer – who descend from on-high to torment victim Michael Lester in Archetypal role as Cinderella/servant or kid brother. With more than a nod in the direction of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd, the slapstick gags played with the traditional tools of balanced glasses, chairs and suitcases. This predictably ended in humiliation and destruction, but there was a twist in the tale. The working title of the piece – Silent Movie – seems to refer not just to the obvious tribute to the classic Hollywood films of the 20s but also to the visual style of the performance which moves with ease from the theatrical to the ‘cinematic’ – large movements and actions were balanced by small knowing gestures and held tableau.

There were many highlights in this engaging piece of street theatre. I particularly enjoyed a moment when the Angels, resplendent in white linen suits, emerged from a piano positioned precariously on the top of a transit van and were outlined against the night sky with photographic precision. The performance and the environment merged into one visual theatre.

The piano remained a focal point and, through technician Brian Tweddle’s ingenuity, it was transformed into an extravagant organ worthy of the demonic Dr Phibes. In a weekend that included some of the most famous and spectacular of street theatre companies, it was a pleasure to see Avanti Display showing us that precise physical based performance and solid artistic content win in the end.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Date Seen
  1. May 1997

This article in the magazine

Issue 9-2
p. 21