The Cabinet of Dr Caligari with Martyn Jacques at the Soho Theatre, July & August 2012

Martyn Jacques and his accordion
Martyn Jacques and his accordion

Well I do enjoy posting news of silent film screenings, but 12 in a row takes some beating. Martyn Jacques, of punk-cabaret band The Tiger Lillies, will perform his own score to expressionist classic The Cabinet of Dr Caligari at the Soho Theatre this summer four days a week, three weeks on the trot. Jacques is known for his eccentric performances and his powerful falsetto voice – he will accompany himself and the film on piano and accordion.

It’s very lazy blogging to copy and paste Wikipedia. However, this is really all the introduction to Mr Jacques you’ll need I feel:

Martyn Jacques spent 7 years living above a brothel in Soho while training his characteristic falsetto voice. In his Tiger Lillies appearances, Jacques commonly sings about “sexual perversions, seedy underbellies, the gruesome, macabre and visceral”. Jacques has been described as enjoying when audience members walk out of his shows, noting “It’s always funny when people are offended by what I do … after all, I’m just an entertainer.”

The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920)

So this is clearly not going to be your common-or-garden silent film screening. However, Jacques is a devotee of silent cinema and this is a very personal project for him:

‘When I was fourteen my childhood desire to play the piano was finally satisfied. My first teacher was Florence De Jong. This was forty years ago and Florence was a very old lady. She had been a famous theatre organist accompanying silent films. She was so good she made gramophone recordings. I’ve always remembered her and this is my tribute to her and the profession. Silent films were for me the golden age of film. They had a magic and enigma you don’t get with talkies. Dr Calagari is a fine example. A freak show in the fairground…
If you’re not familiar with The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, you have a treat ahead. It’s a nightmarish, audacious and superbly stylish horror film, featuring a carnival, a sinister medic, a bloodthirsty somnambulist and a string of murders, let alone some mindbending sets and unforgettable imagery. It sounds as if Jacques’ music could be the perfect fit.
The Cabinet of Dr Caligari screens at the Soho Theatre in London from 25 July to 11 August 2012. To find out more and to buy tickets, visit the Soho Theatre website.
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2 thoughts on “The Cabinet of Dr Caligari with Martyn Jacques at the Soho Theatre, July & August 2012”

  1. Looking forward to this, I always thought the Tiger Lillies’ ‘Shockheaded Peter’ was heavily influenced by this film and Conrad Veidt’s look.

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