I'd have gone to more Poetry Can Festival events - I intended to, as line-ups looked great - but stuff kept getting in the way: theatre shows, Play-Me-I'm-Yours pianos in random places, or simply sunshine on the docks... here on Arnolfini corner, the usual backdrop of colourful graffiti, boats, tourists & locals, below me the big, soft, chrome-coloured, sundribbled spread of Bristol's river with its flotsam of swans & debris and a stream of silver sunstars strobing the water like firework fallout. Drums from the Organic Food Fest on the far side, chora playing behind me. Seagulls circling.
But I made it to Muscle at Bristol Old Vic on Saturday.
Pornography last week may not have been very pornographic, but Muscle was certainly muscular – or at least, testosteronic. The setting is a gym where three men strain their physiques and their psyches in a bizarre emotional triangle: Terry loves Dan, who Steve hates because he’s shagging the woman Steve loves, but who does Dan love? The three men arrive as stereotypes and strip gradually in a strangely touching clumsy dance of mingled bravado and vulnerability. There’s no dramatic resolution, only a slow-burning, sometimes shocking, journey of self-exposure and self-realisation. Best bits were the fantasy monologues direct to audience; weak link was the miming of gym equipment, but that small distraction aside Sion Pritchard, Paul Mundell and Stewart Wright were impressive in their roles. Written by Tom Wainwright, this production emerged from the BOV/ Theatre West initiative to support new writing.
Personal passions in public places. That's the idea behind Speeches, a project devised by Lone Twin who "create community-based performances for specific sites and locations."
So of course I wanted to see what they were up to in Bath's Kennington Meadows - and if we can do it in Frome. The answers, in order, are: Enabling local people to soapbox their enthusiasms & expertise, and, Yes. Only I think in Frome we'd be more quirky, less formulaic.
Emily and I went along on Sunday and agreed foodie Cally was our fave. We ended our day out at the Odeon with phishfood icecream and 500 Days of Summer. “Boy meets Girl. Boy falls in love. Girl doesn't.” Genre parodies, giggles & sniffles, what's not to enjoy...
And now I'm doing what I'm sure isn't blogger etiquette - adding to a posting because I realise there's a couple more things I should've mentioned before bragging about swanning off to Greece. Collider at the Ustinov for one – part of their support programme for local writers – a rehearsed reading of a play still in development. Collider, in particle physics, refers to “two beams of particles accelerated and directed against each other, so that they collide while flying in opposite directions.” With the same force, perhaps, as a fervent evangelical pastor confronting an equally passionate atheist intent on refuting Creation? Shaun McCarthy’s new play isn’t afraid to push contrastive paradigms to almost parodic extremes: the pastor is a secret jew and his wife an ex-burlesque dancer, and one of the scientists is a vaudeville artist manqué (‘the unbelievable in search of the unimaginable’ he says, of both pursuits). The play does need more fine tuning, particularly around the character of the project leader, but complex issues of physics and ethics are entertainingly packaged to create a show that’s not just about conflict but is also often funny, sexy, and surprising.
And huge appreciation to Brian Madigan who brought his 'raw acoustic songs, passion, wit, wisdom' to Frome Poetry Cafe and to the poets too. We were in unwitting competition with the Catherine Hill Bikers Wobble, and if small is beautiful, we were exquisite...
I'm off to Skyros island, twinned with Paradise, on Friday, so here's wishing you all a splendid equinox & misty mellow autumnal fruitfulness.