Sunday, February 12, 2017

Farce, forests, pole dance, moon eclipse & Isis rising

It is a truth universally acknowledged that though a marriage is the joining together of bride and groom, a wedding is for the bride's mother. This is her day, to dress up and to gloat, summon distant relations, settle old scores, hire a marquee to exasperate the neighbours, and rush round John Lewis compiling a gift list. Chris Chibnall's play Worst Wedding Ever at Salisbury Playhouse is based on this premise and from audience reactions of hilarious recognition, I was lucky to be in another country from my mother when I married.
Julia Hills, who was unforgettable as Madame Lyubov Andreievna Ranevskaya in The Cherry Orchard at Tobacco Factory a couple of years back, once again shows how brilliant she is at playing autocratic domineering mother-figures, while Elizabeth Cadwallader, whether berating her ex or falling out of a portaloo, is comic genius as sister of the bride. (She does a sympathetic ear well too, telling her sister's fiance, "When it goes wrong between the two of you, I’m a good listener - and an even better shag.")
And while Elizabeth Hopper and Nav Sidhu, the about-to-be-newlyweds, are both charming, the play really belongs to the comedy roles, including the vicar (Keiran Hill) and dog-mad, offspring-allergic, father-of-the-bride Derek Frood ("You were alright as babies but you became difficult ~ for twenty years..")  It's mostly farce, but the second act brings unexpected insight into family dynamics that redeem the storyline from mere superficiality. And it's tremendous fun, with a wonderful wedding-party-style band bursting out all over when you least expect them, so if you or anyone you know has been affected by the wedding issue, do go along -it's on till 25 February.  Images: The Other Richard

The monthly social for Frome Writers Collective on Monday was a busy one with two speakers: Tim O'Connor,  a Town Councillor as well as a writer, unveiled first plans for a specifically literary festival ~ Literally Frome ~ to be organised next year (yes, it is exciting... more later...) and Karin Campagna gave us a peek  behind the scenes of Winstone's takeover of  Hunting Raven Books. Reassuringly, all staff will stay on and local writers are still supported ~ in fact we now get 10% discount ~ and the main question as yet unanswered is whether the shop name will change, in which case I confidently expect a petition to retain our much-loved raptor. Here's a picture of Tim (he's a stand-up comic too so I'm hoping he won't mind me sharing this snap) and a view of the smart new bookshop interior.
And in an especially creative week in Cheap Street, where eclectic independent traders are always artistic in their window displays, as well as Hunting Raven ~ now also offering coffee in its smart refurbished premises ~ the fabulous Frome Wholefoods has a great makeover look, and Elli on the King Street corner devised an inspired window display to celebrate valentine month.

An extraordinary party night on Friday, with the finale of an extraordinary project: the Isis • Horus • Osiris exhibition opened at Silk Mill with esoteric electronica, projected visuals, live performance from Andrew Heath and a long display of butterfly images, each featuring photographs of eyes collected by the artist.
Andrew Shackleton chose the night of the lunar eclipse to launch these amazing images to further empower all these elements. I was one of the eye-photo donors (thanks David Goodman) ~ here's how I would look to a cosmic lepidopterist.

Another gathering the next day ~ segue here is amazingly talented Frome personalities ~ saw Frome's Assembly Hall crammed so full that stewards were uttering quivering cries about fire regulations as the last of us crowded in to hear Julian Hight talking about the ancient trees of Selwood forest. Here I learned among other things that we have many ancient oaks, that yews can live 4000 years and that 'forest' historically meant not the dense growth we think of today but lightly-wooded pasture claimed by the king.  Julian's expertise and passion plus superb projections of his photographs ensured an absolutely enthralling hour. More here about ancient-tree spotting and here is where you can vote for the European tree of the year (top tip: go for the Brimmon Oak, the tree that moved a bypass in Wales... one silent step for a trunk, one giant squelch for developers...)

Change of mood on Saturday evening with Polers'n'Poets in a show at Chapel Arts in Bath organised by Funky Monkey in support of One Billion Rising. I hadn't heard of this mass-action group opposing violence against women ~ it takes its name from the statistic of assaulted women around the world ~ until invited by Jo Butts, MC at this awareness-raising event, to join three other poets (Alice Smith, D'arcy Chappell and Rich Butnotfamous) performing with some stunning pole dancers and a really classy burlesque act. Chapel Arts Centre is a great venue and the audience was warmly responsive ~ I think there will be photos later but in the meantime here's our table...

A quick look at the music scene this week as I missed a lot, but did catch some absolute gems at Nunney Acoustic Cafe on Sunday, like Keziah singing Amy Winehouse, and Ollie playing Angie. I first heard this in 1966 at an all-nighter in Leicester Square, played by Bert Jansch... unforgettable.

Final footnote to this post is also a personal time-trek: I've finally acquired a copy of David Byrne's brilliantly quirky 1986 movie True Stories, the tale of an 'ordinary' Texan town pageant. It's as bizarre and satiric as when I first saw it, especially when 'ordinary' redneck John Goodman sings People like us We don't want freedom - we don't want justice - we just want ... somebody to love. Thirty years on this love song sounds chillingly prescient in times when, to paraphrase Yeats, things fall apart and the centre cannot hold, the best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity, and that rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches across America with a shadow as long as the world.

1 comment:

Nikki Copleston said...

Great round up!