Starting with art: Art Squared is the title and presentation concept of the Frome Art Society exhibition showing at Black Swan's Round Tower until 6 November ~ an intriguing range of subjects and painting styles, and a chance to credit your favourite in the 'public vote' .
Every 2nd-Sunday of the month I aim to make the three-mile trip from Frome to Nunney for Acoustic Cafe, always good performers & great refreshments, and sometimes I actually get there... this time I did, to hear Ba Pardhy with her band and other excellent acts including Carl Sutterby playing Clash & his daughter Gwen commendably following his punk footsteps by playing Green Day.
Another regular local get-together deserving credit, though I rarely get to it, is Griffin Open Mic which this week had a varied lineup with some strong acts ~ here's Nick Balura, organiser and guitarist.
The session I never miss if in town is Roots at the Grain Bar, this week extra special with wildly popular local band Captain Cactus and the Screaming Harlots and their 'whirlwind of swampy folk blues' with harmonies ~ a romping chaos of must-dance music.
Theatre update now ~ and, as last week, another adaptation of a period novel about love between social unequals. The Woodlanders, from touring company Hammerpuzzle, was written only 20 years before Room with a View (reviewed in previous post) and deals with similar social barriers. But because EM Forster’s mantra was ‘Only Connect’ and Thomas Hardy’s appears to have been ‘Life’s a Bitch and Then you Die’, instead of a feel-good ending with love conquering all, the only glimmer in the gloom of Hardy’s story is a posy of snowdrops on a snowy grave…
The mundane misery of this saga is interrupted only by melodrama, especially in the second act, which poor Grace, (sundered from her lover by, well, cruel fate is the simplest summary) spends in well-modulated rants while her brute of a husband repeatedly concusses himself falling off a horse called Darling. (Remember when Tess of the d’Urbervilles had a baby called Sorrow, and it died?). These characters don’t have personalities, they are figures in a hopeless continuum of loyalty and fickleness, morality and immorality; the set is composed largely of crates and a step ladder, and the performance features both those potentially cringe-making elements: singing and mime.
Yet somehow this is a terrific production. I really can’t imagine a better adaptation, and by the time Grace’s last vestige of social propriety is clearly going to cause the death of her beloved Giles, it was a struggle not to weep. The cast of five were all fantastic, with Adam Fuller as low-born Giles and Katy Sobey as posh Felice Charmond both outstanding. Parchment and sepia tones of lighting and costume enhanced the surreal sense of a written story coming to life. I’m not a fan of Hardy, as you can tell, but this co-production with Cheltenham Everyman, directed by Bryn Holding, is totally engrossing theatre. Sadly the tour finishes on 16 October - look out for their next.
Fun footnote this week:
I don't usually include social get-togethers in my blog but this splendid birthday bash at the Cheese & Grain was a party-plus-performance with a starry line-up including Martin Dimery's Unravelling Wilburys and a fabulous flame-juggling fire-eater too..