Sunday, November 23, 2014

Back in Frome, sweet landing...

Say what you like about grey clouds and drizzle ~ as I do ~ but Frome is spectacularly good at making the most of the stub of the year.  Even before the festive season is launched with our annual
Extravaganza, Silk Mill has a Flea Circus offering an amazing array of creations ranging from previously loved to uniquely inspired. Stalls of exquisitely crafted jewellery and lip-smacking comestibles cluster with vintage coats & curios and the brilliant graphic imagery of BoswellArt.
And as compensation for those evening strolls in Spanish plazas there's a murder-mystery at the Merlin. For a good old-fashioned who-dunnit it has to be Agatha Christie, the best-selling crime writer of all time.  Frome Drama Club chose Witness for the Prosecution for a 22-strong cast production and followed the vibe of the 1950s era to the buttonhole in this 3-Act investigation of a brutal murder and the trial of its principal suspect. FDC has a massive amount of talent among the company and the principle roles were particularly impressive, as Laurie Parnell & Alan Burgess struggle to save Aynsley Minty from the cunning of his cold-hearted wife, the ever-excellent Keely Beresford. Clever set designs enhance the performance, especially when Chambers morphs into Courtroom in the gloom of an Act 3 intermission. There's a double twist in the final scene which I didn't see coming although, having just read Jon Ronson's book The Psychopath Test, I probably should have...
Also scoring on the Bob Hare check-list for psychopathic behaviour would be Finn, highly trained in surveillance skills which he's using obsessively on his family. Philip Perry is mesmerising in solo, a new play by Samuel E Taylor for the Theatre West autumn season, and Bristol Old Vic Basement provides a non-comfortable proximity that works really well for this powerful monologue of pent-up emotions.  A gripping study in the dangers of invasive intimate knowledge, with two moments of reveal so startling I literally gasped aloud. Director Sita Calvert-Ennals and the performer are both also credited with co-devising, what a fantastic project that must have been for the writer.

Also interesting from a writerly perspective,  at Black Swan gallery Jim Whitty was talking about the process involved in his current exhibition Flux which explores the question 'when is a painting finished?' (Renoir, apparently, settled this as 'when my wife calls me for dinner.') Jim's two big canvases depict the old quarry in Vallis Vale, by night with fire and by day with detritus, and each one represents weeks of 'lost' paintings ~ previous versions, altered by persistence.  "I love complexity and texture" he says. Here's the daytime quarry, which is famous in geological circles as the 'De La Beche' unconformity, for its visibly different stone stratas.  Jim's fascinated too by 'particles moving in space ~ stars, swarms, snow.'

Then on Sunday the Chocolate Festival at Cheese&Grain celebrated everything lip-smacking from choccy tattoos for children to a Cocktail Bar ("ladylike but brutal"), with luscious-looking cakes, truffles and bars as well as chox camera-shaped and hurdy-gurdy-coloured. I reckon I nibbled nearly my body-weight in samples at this convivial event, and am now fully arrived back in Frome.

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