Monday, June 08, 2015

Flaming June: suddenly it's summer... again

Exeter-based comedy troupe Le Navet Bete returned to the Merlin with their new show Dick Tracy.
The square-jawed, hard-hitting, fast-shooting detective arrived in comic book form in the 1930s. In this version, clever Dick foils the baddies but has no intention of apprehending them as that would stop the crime wave ~ and Dick loves crime as much as his girlfriend loves Dick... As well as their trademark heroic parody, there's the ever-reliable flamboyant display of circus-skills including mime, songs, absurd masks & props, and general buffoonery. A talented performing quartet, supported by their inventive props man, contrive to create an extensive cast by supplementing  lightning role-changes with a mannequin and some cardboard cut-outs. You could almost see the plot-line of evil BigBoy Caprice's social manipulation as a metaphor for American society, but then again maybe it was all just an excuse for the DIY wrecking ball & throwing masses of sliced bread at the audience.  Hilarious, and full of unexpected moments of marvellous mayhem. Lovely to see the ECOS amphitheatres stones illuminated in the warm night too.
 And on the subject of theatre, a small self-trumpet here: it's always nice to know my review is appreciated by the company, especially when - as with the current production of School for Scandal - it's quoted alongside a soundbite from The Guardian as the show's online promo:
“Brilliant directing from Andrew Hilton is supported by terrific acting from all the cast…SATTF has become a must-see company for many theatre­-goers in the southwest and beyond”  - Plays International on Arcadia 
Celebrations till late on Saturday as The Artisan opened its doors with a great dance band - The Sparks -  giving Frome another music venue. Unlike the Wheatsheaves, now thriving but still 'Name TBC', the old Olive Tree has been transformed as well as renamed. Sunday's Jazz Jam at the Cornerhouse with Vicki Burke was another goodie.
A new month means another Sunday Independent market filling the town with stalls, entertainment, crowds, and that feeling of universal benignity & bliss that sunshine brings. My visiting friends from Wiltshire were overawed with the range and splendour of the event and left after four hours of happy browsing with bags of artisan items, garden seeds, organic cheese and scotch eggs. The Words at the Black Swan group met too: you can see some of our previous art/writing collaborations in this archive gallery collected by Kim Woods.

Fascinating footnote this week of celebrating sunshine came from a trip to Wilton House, which I discovered has an extraordinary history and an art collection more superb than most city galleries, dripping with paintings by Rubens, Tintoretto, Raphael, Hogarth, Van Dyke, Frans Hals... a place where a Gibson neoclassical marble sculpture can be rediscovered abandoned in the grounds and a massive Murano glass chandelier found abandoned in the attic... it really is worth a visit, in other words.  Shakespeare apparently stayed there, but there's a more fascinating connection with the bard: Mary Sydney now recognised as the most important literary woman of her generation. She not only led the way for other women writers but may have written, or at least contributed to, some of the plays currently attributed to 'the Man From Stratford.'   
So to end a week of fabulous summeryness here's a quote from another determined & pioneering woman, Gertrude Jekyll: What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.

No comments: