Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Snow, sounds, & a sumptuous show in Salisbury

Another posting of mostly snapshots.... the music scene in Frome right now seems even more incredibly rich than usual.Here, without much comment, are some of the terrific sessions in town, starting with the Frome Busk, a day of young talent on show all around the town. They were all excellent, but to give a taste of the day here's the Front Runners serenading buyers around the market stalls, youngest performer Scarlett Brudnell, Archie Ttwheam who I reckon we'll all see more of, and Fresher & Angel, who won a spot at a Sunrise festival for their set.

In other music news, Crossing the Rockies did a great set at Three Swans and Phil King was epic at the Grain Bar Root Session - I keep playing Do Not Surrender...to your past, do not surrender to your king, do not surrender to your fears, do not surrender anything...
Three Acres and a Cow, which I've long wanted to see, came to the Rye Bakery with a provocative compilation of songs and narratives of the ongoing struggle of the people against their rulers, re-telling the legends we call 'history' with the authentic experiences through the ages. An excellent practice, and a sad outrage that it's not part of what we call our education system.

And then we had snow again... and some things got cancelled, but not all. The Black Swan Arts 'Young Open' exhibition presented 190 fantastic images from 350 entered by young artists aged from 8 to 19, in an incredible display of vibrant pieces showing extraordinary imagination and skill.  The Long Gallery had been especially prepared by one of Frome's favourite street artists Paris and the whole room looked fabulous.
Also at the weekend, a reunion with an amazing group of writers who met on a Skyros course at The Grange ten years ago, and continued to inspire each other with online support and intermittent meet-ups ever since. Sometimes I'm invited to join their session, held this time in Frome as snow flakes whirled softly pass the Cornerhouse window and slowly claimed the town.

A good production of  The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde's witty, contemptuous, critique of upper-class obsession with status and birth, can never fail to delight. Original Theatre at Salisbury played it perfectly, on a superb fin-de-si├Ęcle set with gorgeously lavish costume, a visual treat throughout. (Designer: Gabriella Slade.) Gwen Taylor as the imperious Lady Bracknell looked amazing, like a steam-train in taffeta, and her scoffing mirth during that famous 'handbag' exchange was a brilliant touch. The men were fine, especially Geoff Aymer as Canon Chasuble, but it was the women who really owned the show. Susan Penhaligan's Miss Prism's brimmed with suppressed lasciviousness and Louise Coulthard deliciously evoked Blackadder's Queenie in her bored, impetuous, Cecily. Director Alistair Whatley has created a well-paced production which not only looks sumptuous and maximises the absurdity and wit of the script but also reminds us of cruelty of English society in 1895 - only months before the lionised playwright became himself a victim. 

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