Twin Peaks UK Festival 2011: Weekend review

David Lynch and Mark Frost’s cult masterpiece Twin Peaks – starring Kyle MacLachlan, Sheryl Lee and Ray Wise – was celebrated in decadent flair at London’s Riverside Studios this past weekend at the Twin Peaks UK Festival 2011. Now in its second year, the festival was captained by the Lynch-inspired Double R Club Cabaret and Burlesque troupe. Compère Benjamin Louche took the reigns as the surreal tour-guide, escorting the audience through the event’s weird and wonderful itinerary.

Drawing on key themes from the Twin Peaks episodes screened throughout the day, the Double R club performed a series of erotic and avant-garde routines, from the impressive fire-eater Heavy Metal Pete to Tallulah Mockingbird’s Log Lady-inspired burlesque piece.

Testament to Lynch’s ability to continually innovate – even at the age of 65 – is the launch of his new electronic album Crazy Clown Time which was also given some attention through the screening of a promotional documentary and interview. Recorded at the International Music Summit earlier this year, Lynch spoke candidly about his creative works as well as his numerous side projects such as his coffee brand, charitable transcendental meditation foundation and weather report.

Twin Peaks cast members Al Strobel (The One Armed Man) and Kimmy Robertson (Lucy Moran) also joined the day for a Q&A session which honed in on their experiences of working on such a cult hit. Strobel – having retired from acting altogether – was brought out of his hiatus for an impromptu rendition of one of the series’ more bizarre deleted scenes with a lesson in speaking backwards.

Rounding off the festival was a screening of the series’ 1992 prologue feature film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. Although less captivating than the TV series, Fire Walk with Me (starring MacLachlan, Lee and Kiefer Sutherland) is essential viewing for any Twin Peaks enthusiast hungry for more. Focusing on the events leading up to Laura Palmer’s demise, the prequel explores the homecoming queen’s double life and her downward spiral into prostitution and drug addiction.

Disturbing imagery and meandering dream sequences ensure that the film lives up to the expectations of Lynch ‘the auteur’, and provides a dark and surreal journey into the world of Leyland Palmer and his demonic possession. Set to Angelo Badalamenti’s eerie soundtrack and featuring performances from Julee Cruise, Lynch admirers will appreciate Fire Walk with Me’s audacious pursuit of unsettling surrealist horror, whilst sceptics will be distracted by the seemingly indulgent idiosyncrasies.

Despite the film being a commercial flop upon its 1992 release and the TV series being cancelled after only two series (which caused petitioning by the show’s hardcore viewers), Twin Peaks persists as a global cultural phenomenon. David Lynch’s creation continues to capture the imagination of new generations of fans and remains a relevant cult masterpiece over 20 years since its first airing.

Amy Wadsworth