Brand New Ancients is a hard act for her new 3-hander Hopelessly Devoted to follow. Paines Plough, who also produced Kate's first play Wasted, came to Frome's Merlin on their southwest tour with this story of a young woman in prison for murder, in love with her released cellmate, grieving for her lost daughter, and finding solace and ~ we have to hope ~ redemption by processing the pain of her life through music. The language is terse, often lyrical, always emotionally charged. Both Chess, the talented singer/songwriter, and Serena, the paroled cellmate, have children: together they embody the differently intense distress of being a jailed mother. Chess aches for the contact Serena now dreads, lamenting "I got two kids to feed, I don’t even know what they like to eat." The catalyst for change is record producer Silver, a recovering addict intent on nurturing Chess's talent whether she likes it or not. Kate Tempest's compassion and insight into how it feels to be confined in a woman's prison is impressive, Amanda Wilkin, Gbemisola Ikumelo and Martina Laird give compelling performances, and the set effectively evokes a sense of confinement also doubling as the facebook world outside. "What's social media?" Chess demands, and newly-savvy Serena explains "It's like social services." This production too is aimed at young audiences, with drama workshops available.
And finally... a quick rave about the dance night at Cheese&Grain on Friday ~ two fantastic Northern Soul bands, The All-nighters followed by local legends Fat Stanley, had everyone bopping at this Frack Free Somerset fund-raiser. And while we're still in Frome, don't forget the next Poetry Cafe is on Monday 17th. The theme is Journeys, and David Johnson and Daisy Behagg will be our guests.