Saturday, February 06, 2016

Imbolc... a boondoggle of a holiday

Imbolc is the pagan term for these very early days of spring, and its goddess Brigid is associated with poetry, fire, and fertility: she's also been adopted by the catholic church, which may be why I found when I googled Imbolc I found that  for many reasons, Imbolc is a boondoggle of a holiday.  I took that to mean a bit of a mishmash, like the last meal at the end of a camping trip, but further googling yielded: boondoggle: an unnecessary, wasteful, or fraudulent project.  Which really doesn't seem appropriate for last week in Frome.
Saturday saw a few hundred people making their way to the Silk Mill for 'One day to make a difference' ~ for the refugees in Calais ~ to donate warm clothes and cash, shop at the stalls, bring and buy cakes, and listen to the stonking songs of the Wochynskis. At the end of the event, the 'Bruton, Frome & Glastonbury group of Aid & Solidarity with Refugees' reported that the total raised topped £1366, and the cash and clothes are now already on their way out to Calais and to Syria.

Another great week for music in Frome ~  maybe we should change our motto from the vaguely aspirational 'It's a wonderful place' to 'The town where free gigs abound'?  After Bonne Nouvelle rocking the Archangel on Sunday afternoon, we had Ben Cipolla at the always-excellent Roots Grain Bar session on Wednesday.

Moving to things literary: Frome Writers Collective monthly meeting on Monday featured a book quiz from demon question-setter Brenda Bannister, here on the right looking innocent as the winner beams and rest of us hide our sheets of shame. All good fun, though. And novelist Debbie Holt, who is a proxy Frome writer because she's been in one of our (smaller) writing group for twelve years, has a new book out on Thursday. The Soulmate is published by Accent Press and Debbie will be talking about it in Hunting Raven Books on February 22.

The amazing Mark Bruce Company premiered their epic (literally) new production at Frome's Merlin Theatre: The Odyssey is a dance-drama retelling of that legendary ten-year journey by the Greek hero Odysseu after ten years of war returning home to his loyal wife Penelope.
The details of Homer's story are all there ~ Medusa's snakes, Circe's swine, the lotus eaters, the unravelled weaving that keeps Penelope's suitors at bay, and much more ~ but Mark as choreographer & director is interested more in 'what it means to us individually.' Myths, he says 'hold a mirror to us all at different times in our lives.'  With barely a word throughout (none from the cast but a few from Frank Sinatra) this is terrific story-telling, Odysseus on his 'hero's journey' sometimes a timeless icon of masculinity and sometimes, as he lit another cigarette or embarked on another romance, more like James Bond. The dancing is stunningly good: I loved all the characters, especially the cheeky Immortal Man and twerking Circe, and the way the team enacted every role from the sacrificial lamb to the ship's figurehead. And no-one can have left without exclaiming over the set (is it a boat? a wooden horse? a portal to Hades?) the lighting, the costumes, and the music. Absorbing, entrancing, and exhilarating, all of it. Mark Bruce is a long-time Associate Artist of the Merlin Theatre, which makes me extremely chuffed to be one too. 

There's very little I can reveal about the comedy-thriller Death Trap at Salisbury Playhouse because it's got more twists than a corkscrew so almost any comment would be a spoiler. Suffice to say that if you know the theatrical theory of Chekhov's gun ~ that if a weapon is shown in the opening act, it must be used before the end of the play ~ then you'll be quivering at the armoury on the walls of blocked playwright Sidney Bruhl, and you'll be right to tremble. Ira Levin, who was also responsible for sinister films like Rosemary's Baby and The Stepford Wives, wrote this as a stage play in 1978: the current Salisbury Playhouse production is sharp, stylish, superbly set & lit, and brilliantly acted ~ especially by the thriller writers (Kim Wall and Sam Phillips) and their uncannily psychic neighbour Beverley Klein. On till 27th February, much more fun than murder on the telly.

That's it for this week. Rosie and I are off to Lyme Regis now, for a writerly weekend planning our next Nevertheless production so - watch this space! Well you do, anyway, don't you...?

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