Sunday, June 01, 2014


Le Navet Bête has been a must-see company for me since I saw their reinvention of the story of Napoleon in slapstick. I've since watched their ludicrous reinvention of the story of America's Wild West, and now their current Extravaganza, and always left the theatre aching with laughter and in absolute awe of their acrobatic skills and comic genius. This time they haven't bothered with a story, they simply fill the stage and spill into the auditorium with extraordinary antics ranging from surreal to brutal, incredibly physical to inexplicably hysterical. The conceit of the show is that we have come to watch a presentation by 'Hans' who is from an unpronounceable country and is aided by three uncontrollable performers. That's all we know, and all we need to know, as this Exeter-based company embarks on a sublime journey of mayhem. It's difficult to say what is most impressive: the sheer energy and exuberance of this charismatic team, the effortless timing that keeps threatened chaos at bay by milliseconds, or the extraordinary inventiveness of their physical feats. There's much meta-comedic play with gags like the swinging ladder, the custard pie and the banana, and that gasp-making classic: the slap-on-the-head ~ but these boys go beyond even Vivien in The Young Ones, Basil Faulty with Manuel, and Blackadder with Baldrick: to assault and revival by extreme puppetry... oh, you’d have to see it. And if you've missed it, don’t miss the next.

Extravaganzas are trending this weekend, with Frome Steampunk Extravaganza II bringing markets, exhibitions, bands, burlesque, and a Bohemian Ball to the town this weekend. Cheese & Grain on Saturday thronged with fabulously attired vampiric-looking vendors and visitors, corsets on women and moustaches on men and hats on everyone. I was one of the few Muggles, wandering round in jeans admiring the retro-galia ~ like Steampunk Engineering 'purveyors of finely crafted artefacts' from bits of old watches 'found and re-purposed.'

I'll end with a few glimpses from the super-market-spectacular we celebrate in Frome on the first Sunday of every month as the streets are closed to traffic for an explosion of independent stalls featuring arts & crafts, vintage clothes & curiosities, food & cider, with live music and lots of free tastings. Especially cheese. Here's the fantastic Swervy World street band and Anna Casserley showing how she creates her beautiful hand-carved spoons. I also recommend, after conscientious sampling, the award-winning halloumi from Homewood, White Lake goats cheese, and Wraxhall Vineyard's Pinot Noir rosé... as you see, an appropriately extravagant amount of research has gone into this week's post.

No comments: