As a Twin Peaks UK Festival virgin, I was very much looking forward to attending this year’s 25th Anniversary Celebration. The festival is held annually at the superb Genesis cinema on Mile End Road – and I can say with absolute conviction it did not disappoint.
From the moment you walked in the door, you were immersed in the world of Twin Peaks: red velvet curtains hung all around and the floor was covered with black and white zigzag lino; aka the Black Lodge. Outside, there was the recreation of Glastonberry Grove and of the train car (the location of Laura Palmer’s death). Both of these locales were excellent; a fitting tribute to the evil in the woods.
Every inch of the cinema was basked in the eerie glow of Twin Peaks-ism, with people cos-playing left right and centre. I must say the best costume I saw was of one woman, who had come as the homecoming portrait of Lara Palmer, complete with frame! Genius!
One of the highlights of the festival was by far the Double R Club, a cabaret troupe based in London’s East End, inspired by the works of David Lynch. From their amazing performances on stage in screen one, to their visceral and extremely disturbing re-enactment of the murder of Laura Palmer in the replica train car, the Double R Club were fantastic.
I attended the very first performance of what became referred to as “the murder” and was truly terrified. We were led into the pitch black train car and told to line up around the edge, once the door was sealed so was our fate and the fate of Laura Palmer. I don’t want to give any of the mystery away so I’ll just say this: the actors were incredible. It was very impressive for them to keep up that level of intensity for four to five performances on each day of the festival!
The Double R Club also entertained us Peakies with an hour (or longer) show on each day, both of which were fantastic! The voice of Em BruLée brought me to tears on the Sunday performance; her vocal filled the auditorium with so much power and emotion. There were also some very sexy cabaret performances from incredible women with porcelain skin that were captivating.
My only criticism was the audience, who were perhaps a little too sober for some of the performances. As our wonderful host Louche pointed out it was probably the earliest cabaret show they’d ever put on so perhaps we can forgive the audience for lack of cheering and whooping during the shows. I would recommend anyone to check out the Double R Club at their monthly residency at the Bethnal Green Working Man’s Club.
The second day of the festival was dedicated to the legend of Lynch and I must say it was a true joy to see the magic of Blue Velvet and Fire Walk With Me on the big screen.
Sherilyn Fenn (Audrey Horn), Madchen Amick (Shelly Johnson), Al Strobel (The One Armed Man), Julee Cruise and Mina Tobias were all in attendance for the Q&A (hosted by the great Tom Huddlestone from Time Out) and included questions from the audience.
It goes without saying that this was one of the high points of the festival and the cast gave the fans over an hour of insight into the world of Twin Peaks, steering very clear of spoilers for the upcoming season, which is how these fans wanted it! Keep the mystery alive!
Sherilyn encouraged the audience to “be who you are, whoever that is” and shared some advice from David Lynch to “shine a light into the darkest corners of your mind, as that is where your child is and where you will find yourself.” Al spoke about the genius of Fire Walk With Me and proclaimed the “critics didn’t understand that the film was a work of art and not a commercial product.”
The entire cast shared their own admissions that the revelation of Laura’s killer was something the network forced and not something that Lynch wanted; this took away from what the series was up until that point. Al put it brilliantly when he said “the murder was just the skeleton on which the true story was hung” and emphasized that the focus of Twin Peaks was the characters and not the whodunit murder mystery.
You may have heard the very sad news that Catherine Coulson (The Log Lady) passed away last week and so the festival acted as a very touching tribute to the late, great actress. Attendees brought logs to line up by the train car, there was a condolence book to sign that would be passed along to Catherine’s daughter in memory, and of course the cast shared some of their own memories of Catherine; all of which were exceedingly touching particularly Al Strobel.
Of course there would be no Twin Peaks UK Festival without the founder and organiser Lindsay Bowden and her team. Lindsey received a well-deserved standing ovation from all the guests at the festival on the last day.
A damn fine weekend was had by all and I for one cannot wait ‘til next year’s festival.