Thursday, July 23, 2015

Peddling performances, one-night stands, & theatre on the move

"A movie under the stars in Victoria Park, powered by bicycles, to raise money for Frome's Missing Link" ~ what's not to like? The Sustrans Crowdfunder page to bring Peddle-powered cinema to Frome filled up quickly, and on Friday there were two showings of Ghostbusters, early evening for the youngsters and late-night for the rest of us. And if you tired of 30-year old iconic imagery of paranormal activity in New York, you could watch the bike wheels making chinese dragons in the night... big congratulations to Sustrans supporters for this great initiative, and to all the stoic peddlers of all ages who kept the spirits spooking and the parapsychologists exterminating.

Leaping a decade forward, on the other side of town Merlin Theatre was rocking the 90s musical RENT in an amazing 24-hour production, like the open-air movie also a fundraiser.  Lack of cash for refurbishment led to this innovative idea by Ryan Hughes, co-directing with Claudia Pepler, but there's never any shortage of talent among the young performers and the entire team well deserved their standing ovation. The story is based on Puccini's opera La Bohème with tuberculosis in Paris replaced by the 'gay plague' AIDS in New York's bohemian artistic quarter but the struggles with drugs, debt and death are timeless in any city. Fantastic performances all round, with Ryan Hughes unforgettable as the tragic Angel.  This show too was on for one night only so it's lucky Frome is a such a small town I could scamper between productions and enjoy large chunks of both.

All of which enthusiasm leads neatly to the Tobacco Factory Autumn Season launch on Tuesday. In a party atmosphere director Ali Robertson promised us their best programme ever, and there are certainly some great-looking shows coming up ~ including the biennial Bristol Festival of Puppetry: 12 days of performances, films, and workshops. And the SATTF double-bill for Shakespeare's 400th anniversary was also revealed: it's Hamlet and All's Well That Ends Well, with tours planned in the UK and beyond.

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