Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Stardust night and days of Spring sunshine

I've been wanting to see Bristol's award-winning Wardrobe Ensemble since this young company moved to their classy  new venue in the Old Market and, as I remember 1972 as extremely enjoyable, their current production seemed ideal. 1972: The Future of Sex focuses on three couples and one loner on the night Ziggy Stardust first invaded the nation's living rooms.  It's a time of redefining boundaries but exciting new freedoms bring kickbacks too, and hints of darker times ahead: homophobia, prevalence of porn, rifts in the sisterhood, continuing troubles for transgendered... the show is determined not to be naïve and there are several interesting interjections along the permissive way, like a brief history of porn from paleolithic times, and equality struggles since Mary Wollstoncraft published A Vindication of the Rights of Women in 1792. Every romp is counterposed by reminders that new freedoms were scary and demanded new responses from both sexes - and men too have a right to say no to cunilingus or yes to cross-dressing.
But this is theatre not a thesis,  and what works brilliantly is the high-energy cleverly-choreographed physical comedy (especially the orgasms), fabulous live soundtrack (Tom Crosley-Thorne), a great cast (James Newton outstanding both as transgendered Anton and as 'not cool' Michael bombarded by space hoppers). As social commentary it's astute on many points - definitely with the scenario of 'History Man'-style Sociology lecturer and ardent student - but looking back, though conceding confusion and general randiness, I 'd say the media manipulation came later on, like Thatcher, and we were more self-aware than the kids in the Wardrobe give us credit for... But I would say that, wouldn't I?
Devised by directors Tom Brennan and Jesse Jones together with the cast, 1972: The Future of Sex goes on national tour after its sell-out run in Bristol as part of Tobacco Factory Theatres Beyond.  I was lucky to squeeze a ticket (or rather a hand-stamp, this is pub theatre after all) on Thursday which turned out a popular night for theatre directors: in my row also were BOV's Tom Morris and Tobacco Factory's Ali Roberts, who's about to make an our-loss/their-gain move to become Artistic Director at Kneehigh Theatre.

Roots Session at the Grain Bar this week featured We Used To Make Things, a classy London band who always get a great welcome in Frome, superbly supported by Kirsty Clinch.

The Black Swan Arts Young Open competition was judged on Saturday in three ages-groups between 8 and 19, and showed an exciting range and creativity of subject, interpretation, and medium.  Imaginative strong images jostled with charmingly colourful 3-D pieces in a dazzling display ~ congratulations to everyone involved, including the gallery curators.
Also on the subject of art appreciation, our Frome ekphrastic poetry group Words at the Black Swan has, like the Wardrobe ensemble & hopefully similarly successfully, moved to new premises in Cordero Lounge in the precinct. Frome Word Gallery, as we are now, will run monthly art-inspired workshops but no longer tied in with the Sunday market and responding to different exhibitions in the town.  Rebecca Brewin led the first session around the in-house art, with some fascinating responses.  
And to end this post, here's Max Moody soundtracking the Barefoot Boogie at the Bennett Centre on Saturday night.

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