Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"The future is there, looking back on us."

Frome Poetry Cafe on Monday: a dreich night illuminated by two fabulous guest poets and some delightful readings from the floor.
Stephen Boyce and Rosie Jackson both shared some newer poems as well as reading from their published work. Rosie's newly published collection what the ground holds is full of intimate observational moments ~ the indigo scar of coal dust lovingly caressed, the long one-breath kiss of airport reunion ~and paired beautifully with Stephen's anthologies: Desire Lines and The Sisyphus Dog, which also craft small personal moments, small and vivid as the dab of red his father pointed out to him in Constable's Haywain, to take us directly into the awesome landscape of private life. Appreciation to our open-mic readers, too, for a delightfully varied contributions, including Norman Andrews' moving memory of a childhood harvest in the blitz when a burning spitfire spiralled into the field and he saw that the pilot whose uniform still smouldered on the stubble/ wore a woollen jumper sent to him/ by one of the million women who knitted/ so that our boys would always die warmly. 

Bulgaria. It's that place that 'sounds like it's part of Russia, but it's bloody Paradise ~ the sun, the beach, and if you're not bollocksed by lunchtime you're not on proper holiday.' Or maybe it's the place where everyone is lazy and officials aren't supposed to make decisions, they're supposed to take bribes. Tom Philip's absorbing panoramic play Coastal Defences acknowledges both clich├ęs, the Brit tourist and the jaundiced Bulgarian, and explores an aspect most of us know less about ~ the months of peaceful protests in 2013 and 2014 against a coalition government which allows poverty and corruption to keep everyone in 'a space that floats between East and West.' Tom is clearly fascinated by this land and its people, but there's enough distance from the issues to maintain the drama of the central stories of longing, hopes and fears, of the diverse characters we meet, all vividly evoked by Jill Rutland, Nic McQuillan, and Chris Bianchi. A superbly sparse set by Rosanna Vize sets the scene with roses and a dominant emblem of corporate power.  There's plenty of humour, but with a situation this close to reality inevitably pain and loss too, although ~ the writer suggests ~ maybe more understanding can bring respect for the natural beauty of the Black Sea coast and appreciation of the ancient culture of Sofia. On at the Brewery in Bristol till Saturday 18th as part of the autumn season of new writing from Theatre West, worth seeing.

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