Salisbury's version of Boston Tea Party coffee house is an amazing Grade-1 listed building dating back to the early 1300s and it was here in an upstairs room that Crossed Wires gave its premier performance for the Salisbury Fringe last weekend. An audience of more than sixty crammed between the medieval pillars to watch our twin tales of difficult relationships eventually resolved, and donated generously on their way out (thanks, guys!) After a quick celebratory glass in the astro-turfed garden of the delightful Kings Head (15th Century) Rosie and I scooted on to Castle Street Social Club to listen to the script-in-hand readings from Juno Theatre: five 'short plays inspired by famous women' ~ listening rather than watching, as the actresses were largely invisible from the back seats. Outstanding in this quintet was Glad Tidings by Lesley Bates, an encounter between a feminist angel and reluctant recipient of the annunciation ("If He wants to talk surrogacy, it'll cost..." "He doesn't DO money!" "Well then I don't DO pregnancy.") ~ enjoyably entertaining but also making subtle points about women's roles and male expectations. I also liked Martine Shackerley-Bennet's short witty piece Heady Days, a kind of dark Alice-in-Wonderland beheaded-foe croquet game between Queens Elizabeth and Mary.
Bath Drama relished the opportunity to bring this superb piece to the Rondo. As the sisters bicker about their reminiscences, their memories dissolve and erode their chosen adult personas: the high-flyer faces hidden pain, the romancer hits realism, and the practical one downs a bottle of whisky and lets fly her lethal resentments. Memory, its power and its unreliability, is the theme that beautifully and thought-provokingly links these women to each other and to us: Can you feel nostalgia for something that never existed? Mary asks, and wonders if it's true that water can retain a memory of substances long after there's no discernible trace of them ~ the theory of homeopathy, her elder sister Teresa's business, which is also affected irrevocably by the deluge of events in this tumultuous night. Congratulations to the whole team, especially Mike (Nic Proud) and Mary, played superbly Alexia Jones at short notice. On till Saturday 11th.