Monday, July 15, 2013

Festival finale...

The thin night darkens. A breeze from the creased water sighs the streets... I don't know if the river Frome is exactly creased but it's a bit wrinkled, and this week looked like Seurat's Seine at Asnières with so many people lounging on the bank in sunshine, but since my Festival ended with Under Milk Wood, those final words from the poet's town saga seemed appropriate. This community version from Frome Drama Club was scheduled for the amphitheatre but bizarrely the weather was too good, and it had to be relocated inside Merlin Theatre as two people had passed out during the Saturday matinee. With 65 speaking parts plus six children & an 18-strong production team, this involved in the words of director Philip de Glanville 'an exceptional amount of goodwill on the part of an extraordinary number of people': an awesome achievement with many highlights including a tour-de-force performance by Laurie Parnell as first voice.
The Granary offered late night theatre from Fine Chisel, so Rosie and I went along to Midnight at the Boars Head, a roistering patchwork of Shakespearean clips from bawdy bits of his comedies and rowdy bits of his tragedies requiring water-squirting, balloons, angel string, party poppers and an awful lot of audience indulgence. A young cast bounded around strumming and shouting with exuberant self-confidence and trays of ale  ~ that's Rosie joining in their Edinburgh-stylee street promo.
Tales of the Tunnels, which was written by Frome Scriptwriters as a collaboration (compiled by Bath Rondo's David Lassman, who is a member of our group), was sold out online before the Festival began. I've yet to see it, as the filming performance has been postponed, but the Somerset Standard reviewer was impressed with both story impact and effective delivery of a site-specific piece which succeeded in creating an intimate vibe that you rarely get with modern works: a must-see for anyone who likes their theatre original and earthy.
The main theatrical event for Rosie and I, of course, was our Nevertheless Pub Theatre festival special What's the Time, Mr Wolf.  We were really proud to host a production of this quality at The Cornerhouse, and delighted that our audiences, despite its difficult storyline and challenging script, appreciated that what's shocking is not social inadequacy but the social prejudice which sees a lonely misfit as a Lone Wolf to be hunted down.  We had only 3 walk-outs in over 100, and feedback slips gave high praise to both script (Vincent Cassar) and acting (Ben Tinniswood). All the feedback for this show is on our website, and we've had lots of appreciation for Nevertheless Productions in principle as well, with repeated comments like 'We're very lucky to have this pub theatre'... Frome audiences, Nevertheless is very lucky to have you! Local reviewers loved it too: here's The FTR and Somerset Standard reviews.

Glorious weather day after day and a party atmosphere each hot evening made this possibly the best Frome festival ever.  There was an unusual, and very special, early evening event on Thursday when 'Five Award-Winning Poets from Cities Far & Wide' shared their words at the Archangel. Organiser Claire Crowther was a bonus reader, and Tamar Yoseloff introduced the rest of her A-list team: Anne Berkeley, Carrie Etter, Jenny Lewis, and Sue Rose. Tamar and I were both tutors at a writers' retreat in Crete in 2005 so it was great to meet up again, as well as to hear such awesomely excellent poems from all the readers.

And there was of course much more all week than theatre and poetry.  Scores of studios and exhibitions spaces were open all around the town, and with free music in pubs and gardens and free events for children in the parks and at the Library, it's easy to see why this week in July rates as one of the best community festivals in the country. So here, to end this effusive eulogy, is Teatime Treats at the Library, Circus Skills at Welshmill, Geneology playing jazz at Through the Blue Door, one of Fiona Campbell's copper wire creatures in The Limes garden, and me with friends at Silk Mill tapas bar. Cheers!

1 comment:

Tiffiny said...