Interview: Cult Prodigy Lucy McCormick on Jesus et al.
Lucy McCormick’s ‘Triple Threat’ was a knockout from the outset at its preview that we caught at Soho Theatre. A giddy mix of song, caustic wit and bump n grind made us grin and guffaw uncontrollably. If you’re at the Edinburgh Fringe this is one not to miss.
We caught up with Lucy to get our heads around her radical retelling of the Old Testament.
Tell us about Triple Threat?
Triple Threat is a re-enactment of the New Testament told via a Nu-wave holy trinity of dance, power ballads and absurdist art.
What will an audience experience?
Dancing, songs, mess, banter with the audience and a finale ending in which Jesus ascends up to heaven via an (attempted) crowd surf. The piece is loud, fierce and volatile but always enthusiastic.
Your shows have been described as shocking. What makes them so extreme for an audience?
I don’t really think about it in terms of shock myself, and of course every audience is different. There is some nudity in the show, and I guess it’s not that often that we are freely invited to stare at strangers naked bodies (or maybe it is depending on your lifestyle!) But anyway I don’t think nudity alone is what can be ‘shocking’.
I use my body with a fair amount of irreverence and when nudity is used, it is not in a sexual way, but almost as a prop… A way to illustrate something or ridiculously further the narrative of the show. I think there’s something a bit shocking for some people about this disengagement of the body from sex, or sensuality. Perhaps particularly from a woman. For me, nudity is often about re-contextualising imagery and claiming agency over my body under the gaze of a capitalist, patriarchal society.
The show channels The New Testament. Are you religious at all and what’s the message behind the show (is there one?)?
I’m not religious. I think it’s pretty clear when you see the show that the story we have chosen is fairly arbitrary. In many ways the biblical story is more an excuse or gag. It reads more as a conduit for me to do the things I want to do on stage. Using a ‘sacred’ story helps with a crassness, a brevity and an absurdity that is important to me in this work.
I was partly inspired to create this piece by an ongoing interest in the Quaker belief in ‘God’ as one’s own moral conscience – ‘that of the God in everyone’. This piece is also an exercise in casting myself as the Ultimate Man, and so allow for my interests and frustrations in gender politics and feminist discourse.
I have enjoyed making crude links between my own position as an artist and the rhetoric of these biblical stories – what do I stand for? What am I willing to do? What will the end be like? Playing deity also allows for the exorcism and celebration of my own ego.
Our favourite ‘hanky panky’ star Ursula Martinez is directing the show. What’s it like working with her?
Ursula tells-it-how-it-is and I like that in a director. If I disagree with her I have to really fight my corner, which means I have to be very clear on why I want to do something. I find that a very useful and economical way to work. Also if she likes something I do she really let’s me know…. She’s a bit like Simon Cowell!! But mostly working together is very fun, and very very silly.
What are your favourite places to go in London? (To eat, to relax, to party etc.)What are your favourite free or cheap things to do in London?
Favourites are mostly independently run, fairly inexpensive and offer something more interesting then generic, gentrified crap. Pubs/bars are Muxima, Builder Brothers, The Palm Tree, The Glory and RVT. For food: The Gallery Cafe, First Class Indian Veg, and for pizza Vernerdi which is 30 seconds from my house in Homerton. Best party is Knickerbocker in Hackney Wick.