Sunday, May 20, 2018

Mostly music and madness

Starting off with madness, and the Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland, the latest production by internationally renowned Ridiculusmus. It's an endlessly provocative, in the thinking sense, story and we get two takes on it, one on each side of a divide in time, or reality (or both) made literal by a semi-opaque wall. Half the audience sees each narrative, but disturbingly hears fragments of the other. Then we swap over, for the rest of the story, which like life has by now slightly changed, with some new bits and some bits lost and not in the order we (half)remembered it. In other words it's like life, disturbingly so. The psychiatrist, who has troubles of his own, is struggling to find answers in the works of RD Laing and there's an ongoing theme of the use & dangers of meds - 'They don't want to medicate meaning-making,' he explains to the fragile, angry, author who thinks he wrote Nabokov's books and may well be writing the play we are watching... It's an amazing, brilliant, unforgettable piece of theatre and I won't say, Go See, because it's sold out at Tobacco Factory in Bristol - and I only got to see it through an amazing gesture by Ridiculusmus when Stepping Out mental health theatre group failed to get tickets and wrote to tell them, and their response was to put on an extra show especially for the Stepping Out group, transporting their entire set to St Werburghs Community Centre on Saturday. As an associate of Stepping Out I was invited too, and after having our minds blown to Lapland and back by this amazing show, we all went off for lunch with the cast in Cafe Napolita.
Saturday evening, you may know if you were in Bath on this warm clear night was Party in the City with masses of bands in the parks, gardens, pubs, cafes, halls, so I hopped off the train and met up with some Frome friends for a saunter round the streets.
There were some good bands indoors but on a sultry night like this, the outside venues lured: Queens Square for wonderful atmosphere and great bands like Jupiter Owls and Agent Philby and the Funtans, and the Parade Gardens - free for this event - for The Blues Others with a magical crescent moon above the floodlit abbey... a glorious way to end an extraordinary day.
Back to Frome, and the week began with a very pleasant Frome Poetry Cafe. It's always a delight to hear the diversity of readings from the floor, and our guest Matt Duggan treated us to the first UK reading from his new collection A Season in Another World. Matt is only just back from a US tour with readings in New York and Boston, so Frome probably did seem like another world... Next Poetry Cafe will be in the Festival, which we're already gearing up for, with brochures out now and booking beginning!

Over in the Round Tower this week there's an unusual exhibition by Si Griffiths, 'pop surrealist' paintings: vivid contemporary iconography probing cultural icons from all walks of life - political, religious, cultural, evoking references to movies, music, comic books, even theatre, in a striking display on the old mill walls. Adventures in Reality? is on till 26th May - do take a look and have a chat with this fascinating explorer-artist.

A bit more music, Frome-style, to finish: Roots Session at the Grain Bar had the fabulous Fos Brothers from Belfast, plus drums and bass, bringing banter and traditional songs presented in a mostly-non-traditional way. And the weekend offered just to too much to see it all,  even if you ran from the Vine Tree to the Cornerhouse as I did, pausing only to admire the Boyle Cross in the marketplace foaming again. Sorry I missed The ShakeSpearOs following (2 of) the ever-vibrant Raggedy Men, but glad to have caught most of Rebel Heroes - a nice irony in ending one session with No More Heroes and the other with Heroes... just for one day...

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