Thursday, May 14, 2015

mostly about costumes

Tobacco Factory Theatres' main house this week is host to Kelvin Players, 'one of the leading and longest established amateur dramatic groups in the Bristol area', who have risen to the challenge of this prestigious in-the-round venue with a production of Molière's farce-cum-satire on religious hypocrisy Tartuffe. Written in 1664, it was performed at Versailles for Louis XIV who promptly banned it on the grounds that, although he personally found it ‘extremely diverting’, others might be ‘less capable of making a just discernment of it.’ (Interestingly this was also the theory used by Lord Longford in the 1960s when considering the corrupting effect of Soho strip clubs.) The original play was written entirely in rhyming couplets: this is the translation of Exeter professor Martin Sorrell and a strong cast made the most of it. Especially engaging performances from Nicky Rope as Elmire and Tom Colebrook's wily Tartuffe, and Fiona McClure as the mouthy maid. Director Ralf Togneri shifted the action to late 19th Century to 'reflect the continuing possibility of being taken in by hypocrites' which has also allowed designer Chrissy Fryers to create flamboyantly brocaded fashion couture.   On till Saturday May 16th.

Theatrical attire seem to have become the theme of the week, with two costume-related exhibitions in Frome' Black Swan Arts. As well as their gallery events, there's now work on display at the Round Tower and also in the workshops beside the cafe where Judy Simmons is currently showing her exquisite and extraordinary work which she delightfully describes as 'Sumptuous Gowns and Bespoke Fabric Design'. The results may be floating concoctions for a fairytale bride, but the process requires expertise in digital technology: from an initial photograph Judy uses photoshop to create a repeat design printed onto fabrics, then builds each garment uniquely step by step. The lace on that bodice, for example, was based on a photo of rose petals; like the organza roses, hand-curled with a naked flame.

Ten steps away, another extraordinary fashion parade as the Round Tower walls are filled down and up & along the stairway too with David Partner's photographs of mayoral regalia as worn by Peter Macfadyen, project instigator & this year's incumbent.  Local groups and firms as diverse as playgroups, art clubs, Sustrans, Protomax, and the community toilet scheme have all made decorative contributions ~ here's Rosie by the festive chain made by the Wessex MS Therapy Centre.

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