It's a long drive to Taunton Brewhouse Theatre from Frome, so Alison and I were hoping Funeral Games, billed as a "black comedy double act" would be more playful than grave. It was both, and brilliant. The physicality is awesome, the humour irresistible, and the deeper layers of damaged intimacy deeply moving.
Unpacked have a simple set: 2 filing cabinets used as prop stores, coffins, bunk beds, fight arenas, remembered landscapes, magicians boxes, even murder weapons.
Darren East is Henry, an undertaker, sole carer & lonely heir of a tyrannical father. Gilbert Taylor is Keith, a malevolent Artful Dodger of a baby brother, come home to relive the terrors and challenges of their childhood. Random extra roles are taken by the audience - we were in the front row so Alison was the horse. I was the one who betrayed Henry to Keith with a nod. I felt like Judas.
The final Words@FromeFestival meeting for 2008 was really more of a group pat on the back. We think we have a great programme. From soapbox poets and shop-front writers to a master-class with the creator of Life on Mars, there's something for every writer with a pulse. The brochure will be out mid-May - get on the mailing list now!
I'd love to tell you in a few words what "Seven Go Mad in Thebes" was about but I'd be about as successful as Stephen Hawkins explaining the origins of life. It's a witty spoof on Blyton and Greek mythology, it's a half-familiar history lesson of lamentable aggression that time-travels right up to Iraq, it's a passionate critique of the marginalisation of madness, and it's a outrageous farce. How do the Secret Seven come in to this story of conflict between the Kings of Thebes and Sparta, echoed in the rivalry of Tiresius and Cassandra? Why, through the magic pool, of course, to save the day by revealing the god Dionysus (or "some guy with a shrub on his head and a drink problem" as scoffed by King Lacedaemon, himself merely a guy with a stetson on his head and a Bush complex) was luring all the women to the hills for commercial gain not cultural freedom. Appalled by his conniving, everyone sings 'Summer Loving' and the show ends with a feel-good high and a flurry of cross-dressing.
Stepping Out is the leading UK mental health theatre group and they've been winning awards and delighting audiences for a few years now. Last night for this performance is Saturday, go if you can - check out the audience feedback for 54 reasons why!