Friday, April 13, 2012

Another stonking night ~ that's in its original meaning of agreed excellent by all ~ at Frome Poetry Café on Wednesday when the Garden Café went On The Road with balladeer and guitarist Mo Robinson as main guest. Mo's own journey has taken him from Ireland to California and his songs are vivid road-movies from a much-travelled life. Plenty of poetry was also promised & delivered, to an impressive standard, by Tauton poet Paul Tobin whose new collection Blessed by Magpies is published by Lapwing Press, and by 15 open-mic spots. Fantastic event, thanks all!
BOV Studio too was crammed for the Pinter / Beckett double bill, heightening the sense of intimacy to near intrusion during both these quietly intense short plays. I’ve long been convinced you can’t love theatre and not be a fan of Pinter, but in this combo A Kind of Alaska was a mere dry sherry to the extraordinary feast of Krapp’s Last Tape. Simon Godwin, whose uncluttered direction is brilliant at letting the script speak, feels these two playwrights share the belief "that human beings cannot bear much stark reality." There are parallels too in the sense of lost lives ~ Deborah has dreamed away 29 years "nowhere" while Krapp searches his thoughts of 30 years ago, both rejecting real connections as too painful. Richard Bremmer, who also features as doctor to Pinter's recovering coma patient, is mesmerising in Beckett's monologue role as he listens, mystified & contemptuous, to the life experiences of his younger self: he inhabits the stage in his silences and even his absences. Excellent set, lighting, and sound as well.

Like London buses, Pinter plays arrive in triplicate after a dearth: a touring double bill by European Arts Company came to one of my favourite venues, Bath's Rondo, this weekend. It was the 'summer of love' when I last saw The Dumb Waiter and since then, as programme notes point out, this tense two-hander has influenced every hit-man movie from Pulp Fiction to In Bruges. This version introduced reciprocal elements with humour derived from television comedies and, less successfully, a set apparently inspired by CBeebies. The Lover, a gentler and more playful piece, explores roles in relationship, and John O'Connor & Rebecca Robson were entertaining in an evening of classic Pinter themes which, as the director says, 'contain more in their short acts than most full length plays.'

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