Bristol's BIG MOUTH CABARET, the last before comperes Rosemary & Tom take a year's sabbatical, was a monster bash of performance poets with a glittering line-up that lured me & Hazel to St Paul's Crypt at open-door time on Tuesday. Quite unnecessary of course, poetry events are required by statute to start late. "All we're doing is putting the pieces of the jigsaw together on your behalf" Byron Vincent explained inscrutibly, presenting macabre characters from mentalist mates to the Marquis de Sardines. Byron claims to have a pact with fellow poet Nathan to perform only new work from now on; I applaud the intent but mourn the passing of such surreal lines as "the finding of the baby, the swapping it for glue". Jude Simpson brought the cream of her Edinburgh set, with 'Secret Rapper' as cherry topping.
After Dr Joel's musical interlude, Nathan Filer presented his usual - self-styled - political, pertintent, poignant pieces, with his usual stylish eccentricity. I hope the ode to Wikipedia doesn't join the list of now-abandoned love poems. Headliner Elvis McGonagall had terse words on Tony Blair for "skipping off to the Middle East and taking 10 minutes of my set with him" but is making a start on analysing the Brown bounce: "brooding psychopath, now a love god?". A great set, with welcome returns from David Cameron and James Blunt among others. Poetry's been called the new rock'n'roll, with Elvis the new Elvis and Byron an Arctic Monkey, and there's a truth in the triteness: new material is essential, but us fans love the oldies too.
Still on spoken words, I'm delighted to see producer Howard has put another track, alphabetti serendipity, from our upwardly-mobile DVD out on Youtube. Launch of Crysse & Hazel, Live & Lippy, is October 26th at the Madabout Words cabaret in the Merlin foyer.
And now for something completely different: The Importance of Being Earnest, which opened at Bath Theatre Royal on Wednesday. A satisfyingly no-tricks production, exquisite visually. Much choreography had gone into being-seated styles and the parasols seemed like members of the cast. Penelope Keith had the onerous accolade of single billing on the posters and responded by under-playing Lady Bracknell’s utterances in a manner that may have rotated Edith Evans in her grave. The interrogation of Jack Worthing, designed to have that young man and the audience trembling with apprehension & awe, was conducted more like a cosy interview with a potential care worker. But everyone looked wonderful and the tableaux were great. A lovely evening.
Change of mood again: now well warmed-up to watch others perform, I spent all Thursday at the Merlin Theatre where 30 different acts were show-casing work “Made in Somerset”, watched by delegates from all over the SW & beyond. Impossible to see all, but I managed six - including drama ranging from Festival of Fools’ spontaneous theatre to carefully plotted monologue pieces, and contemporary dance from local heroes Stetsaphunk’s hip hop to Mark Bruce Company’s innovative explorations. Home, groggy with imagery & words, to pack: Peter & I are off cycling in Cyprus next week. Weather forecast: 34 C & climbing…