Saturday, July 04, 2015

Frome Festival 2015 officially off ~ to a spanking start

Silk Mill always has a lively presence, this year leading off with an exhibition of paintings by Romi Behrens and a sizzling opening night party. Here's gallery owner Kate Moore with 'master plaster caster' & raconteur extraordinaire Peter Hone (& Basil the dog). Romi's oeuvre is here hailed as 'a magnificent and star-strewn reality' though the artist herself disclaims echoes of the masters to whom she's likened ~ understandably since Picasso believed paintings should 'bristle with razorblades'.
On to Wheatsheaf New Venue for Polaris Experience: projected visuals and live voice by Gene Serene, unforgettable singing 'hold me, touch me' to the swirling cosmos.  Add a mind-shifting AV created by Andrew Shackleton and a dance set from Johnny Normal and that's an extraordinary evening.

Several arty open nights on Friday: Frome Open Studios this year features 67 local artists at 21 venues. Welshmill Artists are at The Hub with paintings of townscapes & landscapes, and music from Tim Manning's hammered dulcimer, while  Black Swan Arts has  exhibitions in both Round Tower and Gallery. Mell Day's postcards from an ordinary childhood are displayed together with the extraordinary and very touching Home In Frome memory quilt,  created from collage patches & poems. Music provided by John Law and Nick Sorensen.

Then ~ segueing neatly via beds & memories ~  back to Silk Mill to weave through the thronged yard of the pop-up cantena for Frome Drama Club's performance of Mrs Shakespeare, a tale inspired by that famous codicil by the bard bequeathing Anne Hathaway his second-best bed.  In a monologue enlivened by romps we learn how Mr Shakespeare gets lucky in his marriage, despite his passion for Henry Wriothesley, when he discovers young Anne absolutely adores his erotic fantasies. She thrills to role-playing the crazy girl in the river, the sleep-walking Scottish queen (whose name she can never remember), the shrewish wench who needs a spanking, and adores being Queen of the Fairies ravished by a donkey...  Tina Waller's young Anne is a glitter-bomb of sexiness, and Stephen Scammell's Will leaps to the challenge in these entertaining sections. Although the script betrays too much of its radio origins, for lively effrontery alone FDC deserves the praise this show is receiving. The bed is amazing too, and mandolin playing & roundels to greet the audience are a charming touch.

The Valley are about to start their second half by the time I finally arrive at the Cornerhouse. "It's going to be a good week," Griff says, "I've booked myself into rehab for Wednesday - you've got to think ahead."

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