Festival Poetry Cafe was born on a balmy night in Frome with readings under the stars... and we've had to move indoors ever since, so it was delightful to be once again in the tranquil garden of Garden Cafe for the tenth anniversary of this special occasion: the only Poetry Cafe of the year here which uses words like 'judging' and 'winner'- but, since this is Frome, the 'slam' element is laidback and the atmosphere supportive. This year's laureate, voted from the audience, was David Davies who has been working alongside visual artists in the Open Studios festival trail. Elegantly hosted by this year's organiser, the luscious Muriel Lavender, with a superb guest spot from Gordon Graft whose personal, political, passionate poems go straight to parts others cannot reach.
The big event of the week for me was Lullabies of Broadmoor Upstairs at the Cornerhouse. There's been a huge buzz around these two Stepping Out Theatre productions which Rosie and I booked for a Nevertheless festival special - a pre-Edinburgh premiere Upstairs at the Cornerhouse. Venus at Broadmoor was sold out in advance, and so many of the audience returned for a double-dose of murderous madness that we were completely full for The Demon Box too, with huge applause on both nights for the immensely talented cast, impressive direction, and insightful and incisive scripts.
Both plays travel deep into psychosis, showing effects and suggesting causes, not flinching from the horror but with compassion as well as superb theatricality and surprising humour. Is there a cure for madness? There are no easy answers, either now or in 19th Century Broadmoor, but these stories make a powerful case, and subliminal plea, for love.
Fantastic, brilliant, and amazing were the most frequently used words on the feedback forms: also wonderfully moving and highly emotional... funny and erotic... poetic at times and at times very funny.. Superb script, acting and décor! ... Gloriously theatrical and inventive – lovely set & costumes and VERY well acted... Captivating from the outset, I can’t believe I just got to watch such quality drama for £5!... We will come back again. Frome Rocks!
Congratulations and appreciations to the splendid Chris quartet - Bianchi, Courtenay, Donnelly and director Loveless, to exquisitely ruthless Violet Ryder, to Ann Stiddard for working tardis-magic with the set, and to the imaginative skill of writer-producer Steve Hennessy.