Monday, November 03, 2014

Clocks go back & autumn hots up

The Falcon's Malteser, a lively touring show from New Old Friends arrived at the Merlin this week to entertain a delighted half-term audience. Based on the spoof novel by Anthony Horowitz, this glorious pastiche features ~ as well as a box of popular confectionary ~ every thrilling cliché of private eye fiction from disguised assassin to car chase, all delivered fast and furiously funny. Four actors take on all the roles: Tom Medcalf as Nick Diamond delivers the backstory as a 13 year-old while Feargus Woods Dunlop plays dashing-but-dim Tim Diamond with a private-eye hat and lines like why is it called a FUNeral when it's no fun, it should be a SADeral, and multi-talented Heather Westwell and Dan Winter create the seedy and sinister society that sucks the brothers in. Both charismatic performers, they sustain the dynamic of every preposterous scenario in a range of roles from dieting gangster to nightclub siren (her)and dyspeptic cop to getaway car(him).The set is perfect for farce ~ revolving doors for mayhem and enough props to create setting without any clutter. A glorious pastiche.

Farce too at Frome's Cornerhouse, venue of choice now for pub theatre, with Tic Tac Toe's Play in a Day, devised and improvised during Saturday for evening performance. Using random suggestions on facebook is brave ~ These are the lies I told you is a great title and 'class reunion' a promising theme, but 'killing by biscuit' sounds a tricky denouement. Enthusiasm and a great team (Calum Grant and Luke Stuart with Ross Scott & Fleur Hanby Holmes, my Muffin Man duo) pulled off 40 minutes of absurdity as sleuth Frank E Stein sets out to find out who murdered the world's worst magician. A tale of love, loss, frogs, and a poisoned custard cream.

More free theatre too from at the monthly Independent Market from The Little Victory Ball telling the story of the first world war from the womens' perspective. The quartet of performers blend facts, anecdotes, statistics, and song into a family show that mesmerises all ages, even on a chill morning in a noisy market yard. Immaculately researched and very moving.  Frome's monthly Sunday market is street theatre in itself: with a buskers, costumed strollers and musicians all interspersed between fields of stalls offering everything from boots and bricabrack to falafals and fine art.

Elsewhere in Frome, too, it's been a musical week. Popular Frukes played at the Festival party at Three Swans ~ (do all ukulele bands play Teenage Kicks or is that a local thing? they inspired me to borrow a uke to learn Smells Like Teen Spirit anyway) ~ and the Wednesday session at the Grain Bar featured Pat Orchard showing how he uses echo to enhance his superb guitar work. Simon Sax introduced a talent-filled Jazz Jam at the Cornerhouse on Sunday, including guest baritone saxophonist George Haslam and Norman Leater on trumpet.

Artsy round-up for this week wouldn't be complete without the visual highlights: painter Russ Ellingham's glamorous launch Art after Dark showed his new works in an exciting noir setting, and a new exhibition from Jim Whitty at Black Swan Gallery: Flux tracks the process of painting and questions when in a work can be called finished, since the narrow margin between incomplete and overpainted is elusive, which sparked an interesting session for the Words at The Black Swan poetry group on Sunday afternoon. Jim's paintings are largely based on his walks along Vallis Vale, the riverside path that links Frome to Mells, and his explorations have led to 'lost' paintings where the essence originally captured is increasingly overlaid with later observations. A bit like all of our memories, really.

Halloween is always a big night for ghouls and glamour so I'll end this post with the marvellous Frome Street Bandits heading in to the Cheese & Grain party, led by the Lady Mayoress and watched by the Mayor...

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