Sunday, April 10, 2016

Times a'changing...

Down in the tunnels below Bristol Temple Meads station something dramatic is happening. Tobacco Factory Theatres Beyond is staging the In Your Face Theatre production of Trainspotting. "I was shocked, and I wrote the fucking thing" Irvine Welsh is quoted as saying when he saw it in Edinburgh last year. But he wrote it in the '90s, about the '80s, so maybe times have changed. If you remember the novel and/or the equally controversial movie with the sensational soundtrack, you won't be surprised that the plot is basically the same as the 'advisory notes' on the flyer: "nudity, drug use, sexual violence and very strong language throughout". Key scenes are all there, shockingly gross & funny & frightening & tragic, and seven ferociously talented young actors evoke the principal characters: psycho Begbie, sweet Sick boy, sexy Gail, and Mark Renton as narrative voice for a disaffected subculture which impinges, like the flying poo, on everyone else too. ("I was going to wear these jeans tomorrow," I heard one bespattered man mutter on the way out.)
This is high-definition 'in-your-face' theatre, with audience members inches from the action and likely to be sat on, spat at, sprayed, poked or slurped at random. But however vulgar or violent, the graphic cameos are not gratuitous. From Renton's opening Choose Life speech to the final scene, it's a shout of rage for young lives at the bottom of a hierarchical society, dismissed as debris from childhood. It's theatre to shake windows and rattle walls, and Gavin Ross as Mark Renton gives such an incredible performance that when he stepped forward to speak to the audience at the end it was several minutes before he could get a word through the cheers. Staging and soundtrack are superb too, do go and see. You may have to kill for a ticket. Images Andreas Grieger

And straight on from Sandstorm, and Tubthumping in time-slip Glasgow, over the river to Bristol's 'vanguard venue' Mr Wolf for a great gig featuring some of Frome's finest singer-songwiters: Al O'Kane with support from Tom Corneill and Emma Shoesmith.

And now for something completely different. Impressionism: Capturing Life is the charming but costly temporary exhibition currently at the Holburne Museum in Bath. My pilgrimage there was rewarded by this small gem by Seurat: Une baignade, one of a series of studies for the Bathers at Asnières, on a canvas small enough to fit in the lid of the artist's paintbox as he painted 'en plein air'. Other than this, and a stormy landscape by Boudin (who apparently inspired Monet to paint outdoors) there's not much striking or even unifying in this small collection. Curator's notes on the movement explain the artists' themes while naturalistic were also glamorous to appeal to wealthy art collectors, subjects 'reclining on the banks of the Seine' to evoke frivolity & luxury. Asnières is actually an industrial suburb, the riverside buildings are clearly factories, and the group are young workmen. It's my favourite painting partly for that reason. (The final painting, in the National Gallery, is also arguably post-impressionist, in fact early pointillist. Just saying...)

No comments: