Monday, April 18, 2011

The night I went to see Frankenspine at Bristol Old Vic studio someone in the audience fainted and had to be carried out, apparently, but I never noticed: I was so utterly gripped by the performance.
“I’d like to tell you a story” begins Tristan Sturrock disarmingly, stepping on a sparsely-set stage wearing trousers with braces and slightly Buster Keaton make-up. The story is extraordinary and true: Seven years ago on Mayday in Padstow he fell ten feet on his head, breaking his neck and paralysing himself, it seemed at first, for life. His fall, rescue, operation, and recovery are related with high theatricality and a multiplicity of characters: as well as gothic voices from the shadows, in the 'real' world there's fast-talking northern Russ "I’m your ambulance man for tonight" and Mr Germon the surgeon "I have my off days - any questions, no? Good." Tristan learns his options are halo brace or 'intervention', which he chooses - a long and dangerous operation which merges with the creation of Frankenstein, as characters from Mary Shelley's story crowd in to the room and operatic music rises to crescendo.
"How fragile we all are. Some of us are lucky, some of us are not." Tristan reflects at the end, and thanks with red roses all who contributed to his total recovery.
It's an incredible production, by turns moving and hilarious, cleverly scripted, well-directed with atmospheric lighting and music, and brilliantly performed. Tristan Sturrock is a superbly talented actor: he was outstanding in BOV's Juliet and her Romeo and in Far Away last year, he's a regular with Kneehigh, and this one-man self-written show is simply awesome - it's on till the end of the month, go see if you possibly can.

Exciting though it is, I wasn't going to mention the launch of Theatre West's competition for the Alma Tavern autumn season, because - though I'm thrilled to have been invited - it's a bit scarily X-factor. Fifty writers, five finalists...
But there's no point in being coy now the photos are out on facebook. We've each got a picture to work from: mine's a fountain in Germany. And as soon as I get over this bloody annoying chest infection, I'll be diving in...

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