Highway to Hell

I’ve been following the work of veteran performance artist Robin Deacon for many years now, from his early musical work in The Attic in Bedford, through the Adamsdown years, to his current status as the premier Tooting-based performance artist currently in circulation.

So it was with a great deal of excitement that I learned he was to do a tour of 3 towns – Coventry, Cambridge and finally his (and my) home town of Bedford, with a new performance based on his experiences as a choirboy at St Thomas More School.

The piece dealt with the visit, in 1989, by ‘Sir’ Harry Secombe’s ‘Highway’ god slot TV programme, which featured the famous Goon singing while standing in front of the aforementioned choir.

Robin’s piece was essentially an investigation into the brief controversy surrounding the supposed ‘ethnic stooges’ placed in the choir by the school, in order to present a more ‘racially balanced’ image. It took in such wide a varied influences as the Bible Code, numerology, cryptology, institutionalised racism, provincial bigotry, and the reactionary toss-off that is John Ball’s Diary in the Bedfordshire on Sunday.

This was all done in Robin’s trademark style, incorporating elaborate and well-made props, video, sound, slide presentations and singing.

This was the most accomplished, slickest, longest and certainly the best rehearsed Deacon performance it has ever been my pleasure to witness. And it was only improved by the fact that I didn’t have to carry any of the props.