Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Home again... for a bit

There's always a lot going on in Frome, as a recent online travel site found ~ though focusing rather on the charmingly quaint angle rather than the determinedly egalitarian nature of many community activities. Don't get the idea the 'Frome revival' is led only by incomers: the calendar is full of local traditions like Carnival and fairs and sporting events. New initiatives thrive here because it's a fertile ground, not because of need to irrigate arid land.
Which is why innovative international apprenticeship Edventure has its UK base in Frome, with the second year of intake celebrating the start of their year-long self-shaped work scheme last night at the Works Canteen with a pizza party. The new recruits not only made the pizzas themselves, but found time for Q&A about ideas for community projects to raise funds to advance their own plans. It's a brave & brilliant venture, and if anywhere can nourish a work ethic that's not about fitting pegs in rigid social holes, I'm sure Frome can. (And btw 3 parties within 24 hours of arriving home is another local speciality...)

Just down the road from us, crow-flying style, Devizes celebrated the August bank holiday with a Street Festival, including international circus acts and theatre. Brilliant Aritista di Strada e di Circo Ian Deadly entertained on the green with a clever and very funny juggling act, controlling the crowd with as much skill as he manipulated his props. I'd gone along with Annabelle, who's planning to use street theatre as a daytime addition to our autumn Carnival, and she ended up performing as Ian's glamorous assistant.

Theatre Royal Bath is ending its summer season with a classic french froth: the Parisian hanky-panky of Feydeau's farce A Little Hotel on the Side, adapted by John Mortimer and superbly directed by Lindsay Posner. Naturally, for a show heading to the West End, the cast were all excellent ~ Richard Wilson's seedy hotel proprietor and Richard McCabe's portly philandering Pinglet have rightly garnered critical acclaim but it was Natalie Walter as the dithering object of his affections who illuminated every scene she entered. And the star of the show was probably Michael Taylor for his set design, especially the swivelling hotel interior alternating sleazy bedchambers and shadowed haunted room. Farce is an endlessly popular form, perhaps because it's rooted in human dread of personal embarrassment, and added elements of Benny Hill and St Trinians worked in nicely but for me the spasms and gagging of stuttering Mathieu were an uncomfortable reminder that once people bought tickets for Bedlam. Overall though it was easy to see why this happy-ending story met with noisy audience approval at the final curtain.

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