Thursday, July 14, 2011

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 d├ęcor! ... 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.

1 comment:

Alon Serper said...

Rosie is rightly presenting me as her and Crysse's number one fan. I have so much admiration for Rosie and Crysse's 'expensive hobby', as they put it, and admirable commitment to bringing excellent theatre to a small country pub in Frome.

As a clinical psychologist who was trained in psychosis and mental health, I was taken by Steven and the cast's portral of psychosis and 'the fights with the demons'.

In the 'Demon Box' the liberation of the so-called 'psychotic' from his demon and psychosis gave me much hope and delight. I found it aspring.

I'd like to emphasis the point that we were watching human beings struggling, failing miserably and overcoming.

I'd also like to stress very strongly that in real-life, outside the stage, most, if not all, mentally ill individuals are not killers and are not even slightly violent and aggressive. Many are frustrated and very rightly so.

They are individuals who are made confused and insecure. With the right medication, holistic treatment on the part of psychiatrist, social workers, like Steven, mental health practitioners and families and friends. And as steven rightly put it 'LOVE', they are balanced and lead an orinary life.

It also takes a high degree of intelligence and sensitivity to 'go mad' or have mental health issues.

I am looking forward to seeing more. Personally, I'd be happy to pay more than the miserable fiver I paid for this pleasure.

Alon Serper (PhD)