Thursday, November 29, 2012

Images for November: floods mile after mile along the Bristol trainline, and a spangly night in Bath when the storms finally abate.

Vox pop moment during the interval of The Double at Bath's Ustinov studio theatre: "It's a good play but I think enjoyable is the wrong word." Actually strictly speaking it's not even a play, it's a session of illustrated storytelling in the 'Transformation' season, adapted by director Laurence Boswell who confesses a lifelong fascination with this Dostoyevsky tale of paranoia in 19th Century Russian bureaucratic life. As with Chekhov and more especially Gogol's Diary of a Madman there's a universality about the mind-eroding frustrations of petty officialdom which stirs our pity: I also liked the minimalist set, brilliant manipulation of the life-size puppet, moments of humour and (rare) moments of stillness that allowed us ~ as theatre can ~ to engage with 'our hero' Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin rather than just observe his plight on animated pages. The cast are superb, especially Simon Scardifield as Golyadkin. Direction, with its multiple voices and wafting puppets and block-stacking, is energetic but a tad CBeebies in visual variety and determination not to let the action flag. The result is sad rather than poignant, clearly told rather than subtly shown. Worth a visit though, especially if the coming festivities make you empathise with a neurotic who self-medicates extensively and greets each new catastrophe with I knew this was coming!

Big relief and a nice warm feeling at Frome's Merlin AGM tonight as board chair Clare Hein reports the theatre has finally come through its recent financial woes. "We've had a tough time but now there's a real sense of celebration ~ it will be alright." This is fantastic news and massive credit to director Claudia Pepler and her team of tireless volunteers, and also to the new Community College Principal for his visionary commitment, and to everyone who swelled the audience numbers during that use-it-or-lose-it time. The message now is "we're here, and we're here to stay."
And so is Nevertheless Pub Theatre! our festive show Flaming Crackers features seven Frome Scriptwriters in "brand-new ten-minute scripts with a festive twist" to quote the flyer provided for us, like our top-class actors and London director, by our supportive co-producer Stepping Out Theatre Company. We're Upstairs at the Cornerhouse on Thursday December 13th then in Bristol at the Alma Tavern Theatre the following two nights and it's only a £iver for seventy minutes of original drama "light and dark, funny and touching, strange and surprising ~ a seasonal smorgasbord with a difference." Do come if you can.

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