"You're kidding!" said the first person to arrive for Poetry Platter at the Merlin when a steward explained that audience seating was on the stage, now transformed bistro-style for tapas suppers and poetic entertainment. Stewards were kept busy explaining, and adding extra chairs, until the stage was filled with nearly 50 people... and responses by the end of the evening were massively positive. We had one no-show poet, so I had to step into the cockpit for lift-off, but after that we soared with Rose Flint's luscious imagery, Wayne Hill's wry wit and succinct words, Alex Lackey's 'naughty alter-ego', Dianne Penny's eloquent simplicity, and David Johnson's idiosyncratic take on having a posh accent... all so varied and all delightful.
As one participant put it: "What a pleasure. Everyone loved it... the combination of voices, the words, the warm congenial atmosphere. Serious achievement. I liked the feeling of an intimate cafe, whose walls were the theatre seats rising in the dark... Such a strong thing to be able to invent and experiment and see things work so well. Hats off to the Merlin for supporting you. Lovely food, too!" So that's a big bouquet to Claudia for the concept and an extra posy to Nikki for her irresistible platters.
Bristol-based Gonzo Moose Theatre Company is touring their new show Is That A Bolt In Your Neck? to ferociously good reviews. I caught up with it in Trowbridge, in a village-hall atmosphere that seemed ideal for the chaotic capers of this Frankenstein-inspired farce - especially when a the rhetorical question "Is it murder to take one life and give it to another" is interrupted by a cellphone from the auditorium promptly used, Who wants to be a Millionaire?-style, by the cast... or was that scripted? Hard to tell in this delightfully ludicrous tale of gothic horror and romance by three incredibly talented performers: Seamus Allen, Mark Conway and Cariad Lloyd (she'd make a great stand-up comic, if she chose, though in taking on 6 roles in this show she slightly over-estimates her versatility) and the play never falters in physical comedy or witty dialogue and even manages to pack an ethical punch: "So much knowledge, so little wisdom" marvels Anastasia as the mad scientist dies along with his monster... or does she...?? No wonder Venue gave the show five stars, I would too. I especially loved the random addition of disillusioned gargoyles.