Sunday, February 11, 2018

Romance, murder, and local history

Renaissance Reimaginings is the enticing title of the new exhibition of paintings by Leslie Glenn Damhus at the Hubnub Gallery: they are simply gorgeous, evoking archane medieval myths with a slight twitch of the lips, and they have enticing titles like 'Madonna with an albino wallaby' - definitely not one to be missed.

Hubnub's Rye Bakery also hosted this month's Town Council 'business breakfast' session which I decided to join despite the fact it started at 7am. My pre-dawn sortie rewarded me with tortilla and some tips on twittering. I'd taken my laptop in case advice arrived as a series of tweets but actually it was mostly via old-school flip-chart, with a useful power-point summary from Sarah & Hannah of DNA Worldwide.

February so far has positively throbbed with live music, but I've only found time for only the skimmiest of skim-throughs with a couple of brief pop-ins, though there's been several excellent jazz sessions at the Cornerhouse, Emma's soul at the Archangel, Invisible Eyes punk at the Griffin, 2+2=3 boogie night at From Perú to You, Celtic jamming and Grain Bar blues... here's just one image of Nasty Habits at The Sun to represent all this massive local talent, free in Frome.

I couldn't miss Bookends of Time at Frome Library, three fascinating talks about this area: the Selwood Forest story from always-engrossing  World Tree expert Julian Hight, plus a tale from pre-Roman days when this area was part of the Kingdom of Dumnonia (Flesh and Bones by Annette Burkett) and Carolyn Griffiths' Woad to This, the story of the local wool trade from glory days of dyeing to the dying days of closures. Woad was grown just outside the town and its indelible indigo hue used as the basis for every other colour - recipe books from the 1700s still exist and you can see photos online at Bath Central Library where they are held. This cloak showing various tones of the unblended dye was created by the knitting group at ~ appropriately ~ the Blue House.  
Moving now to Salisbury Playhouse where Murder, Margaret and Me pitches Agatha Christie, a writer who slaughtered her characters as casually as she sipped tea at Claridges, against Margaret Rutherford, an actress who obsessively made all her characters comical. Between these two flits the imaginary character of Jane Marple, claimed by both her creator and her performer, and nicer than both of them. Philip Meeks's play was originally a solo show, quite a challenge to convert a monologue to a three-person two-act drama when nothing actually happens apart from talking, much of it direct-to-audience exposition, and a little soft-toy playfulness. You'd need ideally a varied tonal range of voices, difficult when all three (Kate Brown, Sarah Parks and Tina Gray) are ladies of a certain age and similar cultural class. Maybe it’s one of those Samuel Johnson things.  Director Damian Cruden adds some clever touches, like the anonymous technicians who gradually build a set around the inaction, and the unwrapping and rewrapping of the hard furniture of these bleak lives. Costumes by Dawn Allsopp reflected personalities, idiosyncratic for the sparring duo, sweetly old-ladyish for Miss Marple who is perhaps the most satisfying character: she is frankly invented. Neither the real writer nor actress come across as women anyone would want to spend much time with, the one obsessed with prying and the other with puddings.  On till 24 February.

I'll end with a glimpse of Vallis Vale, where the river merges with Mells stream, where I walked as a break from interviewing and transcribing for my engrossing current project. Still one of the most beautiful places I know.


Nikki Copleston said...

Interesting - I must read your blogs more often! Always a delightful gathering of useful snippets!

Crysse said...

Thanks Nikki - I'm pretty sure you've been in one or two in the past, on occasions when our creative paths crossed! You can always explore the archives, if you have an idle hour.... (as if!)