Sunday, November 13, 2011

Back in Frome, and everything that was simmering quietly when I left seems to be coming to a rapid boil. First event occurred before I'd worked through my pile of post: Hip Yak Poetry Shack, with actual yak, puppet-stylee, co-hosted by lovely Liv Torc and dashingly moustachioed Jonny Fluffypunk, premiered in Bath's Porter Cellar Bar and featured also Chris Redmond (who wowed Frome on Poetry Platter night with his reclamation of Slow) and surreal humorist Rachel Pantechnicon - all brilliant performers deservedly well received by the lively, largely student, audience. I especially liked Chris's ironic homage to Kenny G (I don't want acid jazz, I want flaccid jazz) and his delvings into dark places like a cold which made him sound like the love child of Darth Vadar and Deidre Barlow, and the only good poo poem ever written.
There were some women among the audience but as performers it was left to just Liv, sassy Bath poet Jo Butts and me to cut a swathe through the testosterone jungle.(Sorry Rachel but you know what I mean.) I'm amazed that with a line advocating no more appeasing and male ego-pleasing I got to bronze in the mini-slam - the winner cramming in more cocks, wanks, muffs and spunk than you'd find scrawled on the door of a primary school loo. I've nothing against any of these ingredients to a healthy & happy lifestyle but the term 'over-egged' came to mind, as did the image of Keats' Ruth amid the alien corn feeling a bit sick. And shouldn't students be off out Occupying somewhere? These elderly quibbles aside Hip Yak Poetry Shack was an excellent evening's entertainment, to be repeated in Frome on December 17th Upstairs at the Cornerhouse so I urge you all to go along & try it if you live nearby as I think you'll enjoy.

Poetry of a different style by the market cross in Frome for the 11.11 anti-war & Gaian evening vigil. Rain poured with anthropomorphic dramatic effect as Rose Flint read her magical Prayer for Peace and Helen Moore intoned her splendid Kali Exorcism.

Bristol Old Vic is still operating without a main theatre, but the 1927 production The Animals and Children Took To The Streets was ideally suited the studio: the show was brilliant but also hard to describe. Imagine Lemony Snicket rewrote the tale of the Pied Piper, and Tim Burton decided to make a film of it. This could be the cuttings. A cunningly animated backdrop created the infested putrid underbelly of the city, a place where the caretaker is regularly beaten up by Wayne the Racist and his eight kids, where gangs of violent children have to be sedated by Granny's zombifying gumdrops - which the neighbours agree is "a massive improvement". References to modern life - vile living conditions, an underclass society, urban riots, chemical overdosing of mental disorders, and probably a few others - crawl and scurry through the action like the vermin, but presentation is more Victorian end-of-pier: the three women who played all the (non-projected) roles wore pierrot style make-up, and silent-movie piano-playing accompanied the action. Outrageous imagination and subversive humour defiantly compensated for a slim and slightly repetitive story-line in this inverse-fairy-tale which put every theatrical element in the blender and pressed Pulse. The full-house audience all loved it, especially the children. Little dears.

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