Monday, July 18, 2011

Final festival bulletin from Frome, where our revels here are ended... there's been fantastic free music all week, from the Boot Hill All Stars at the food feast and the Critters at the Olive Tree to Emma Harris and fabulous friends at The Cornerhouse.
Nunney Rocks on Sunday duly rocked, especially the amazing voice of Simon Allen. Jill and I walked the three miles there and back, dodging showers, in time for the The Death of Sherlock Holmes scheduled for the Merlin amphitheatre.
Miracle Theatre is one of my favourite touring companies, but sadly the drizzle relocated their performance inside, never a good alternative in my view as without the delightful absurdity of creating an interior world in open space, expansive gestures and voices become charade-style exaggerations. Indoors, shrill is not funny, it's just... shrill. But there was much to enjoy as the cast of five - including brilliant Ben Dyson as Dr Watson - with a variety of props, wigs and jokes about spiritualism, created thirteen characters to evoke the 19th century world of the great detective. In their best moments they achieved this with glorious hilarity but these moments were mostly in the second half, which was faster, smarter, and more inventive. Conan Doyle famously later revoked the death of his hero, and this adaptation uses the clever conceit of introducing the author into the story, outwitted like Moriarty by the craftiness of his own creation. Al Munden's versatile set not only looked good but allowed for full costume changes and some of the best theatrical gags - like the moving train that foils Moriarty and a frenzied puppet fight. And now at least the mystery of why Sherlock Holmes was revived is satisfactorily solved.

So ends probably my best Frome Festival yet, mostly because I got to see so much more of it. I'll conclude with an image from the start of the week, that opening night when the market square was absolutely full of people celebrating summer sunshine and the creativity of our town.

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