Thursday, October 22, 2015

Urban myths and rural idylls: Bedminster Bigfoot & Last Tree Dreaming

After the legendary Bedminster crocodile, another urban myth arises from Bristol’s river and woodland: a wild and powerful goddess to give the city’s dispossessed what their human leaders deny them – humanity, and care.  Mark Breckon’s new play The Bedminster Bigfoot is a magical fantasy told with fast-paced humour and reality-based anger, a Charlie-Brooker-sharp political parody and an absolute must-see show. The twilight world of the countless ‘have-nots' in peril of hunger and homelessness (‘life’s natural victims, weaker stock who deserve oppression’ to the ‘haves’ in control) – is vividly evoked with verbatim quotes, media clips, & politician face-masks, but there’s never a drab moment in this kaleidoscope of dramatic cameos moving swiftly between savagely funny satire and powerfully moving drama. 
Director Marc Geoffrey has a terrific team – set, lighting, and sound brilliantly enhance the show – and all four actors are superb: Paul Currier as the callous Job Centre manager  ('It’s about reaching targets and the target that matters now is sanctions'),  Joanna Smith as the tenant penalised by her kindness, Ben Crispin fantastic as the ex-soldier at war with the entire system ('No decent country runs a forced labour scheme!') and Adam Lloyd-James as the boy who sets off on this very modern hero’s journey.  It’s on at the Alma Tavern until the end of the month – go if you can, tell your friends to go if you can’t. 

Mythical creatures with magical powers must be the zeitgeist this autumn: Kingdom of the Icebear, from the Theatre West season of plays by local writers, was on at  Bath's nice little Rondo theatre. Adam Cridland plays the boy who longs for this beast and there are evocative poetic monologue moments in this saga of a Somerset family failing to put aside their differences on Carnival night. Moving to the Hen & Chicken in Bristol after the weekend till the end of the month.

Now back to Frome for a quintessentially Fromie celebration as two new benches arrived in Rodden Meadow last week inscribed with thoughtful adages: cider & sausage rolls for all and brief speeches from Charlie Oldham the generous bench-carver and wordsmiths John Payne & Tim O'Connor.  Epigrams on benches, as Tim reminded us, are often about loss so it's nice to have one encouraging a look around at what's happening now.
On then to Vallis Vale woods for the Last Tree Dreaming Community Day, an idyllic event with  Helen Moore of Shared Earth Learning introducing us to a range of forestry activities from spoon carving to storytelling & poetry, with soup on the campfire and marshmallows for the children to toast.  Julian Hight was there to show his fabulous new book World Tree Story with amazing tales from 39  countries - Julian rates himself as a cottage industry now as publication was entirely crowd-funded through the Heritage Lottery.  His official Frome launch will be 11.30 next Independent Market Sunday, at Hunting Raven Books.

Musical finale this week comes from The Griffin, where Blue Midnight shared their 'space-folk-dub-brass-fiesta' sound, showing why they regard themselves as a"musical Monty Python" ~ a fabulous set from a band we should hear more often: buy their album White Moon to see why.

No comments: