Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Post-festival blues cancelled, everyone too busy

The festival is over, with Frome's response - predictably - along the lines of 'bring on the post-fest-festivities.' Merlin Miscast 'Cabaret Extravaganza' on Friday was a brilliant celebration of the talents of the contributing performers - an all-singing all-dancing reprise of twenty-two solo and ensemble songs from the last years' productions, atmospherically choreographed, with onstage band. Projected information kept the show fast-moving, with minimal but entertaining compering from super-glam Artistic Director Claudia Pepler & show director Ryan Hughes, and if this sounds overly fulsome all I can say is, it really was a great night for community theatre - and for the Merlin for nurturing so much creative activity.

Exhibiting a Paul Nash painting is quite a big deal for a small town art gallery, and Black Swan is making the most of having this one in their current exhibition: Arborealists and Guests will be in the Long Gallery until 2 September, and on Monday the Words at the Black Swan writing workshop met, with poet Louise Green leading, to respond to the theme of all things arborescent and dendriform. We looked at tree prayers and poems, created a small collective forest in words, and then focussed on a personal piece - some of these will be posted on the group facebook page here. This is a timely exhibition, in a year Sheffield - previously claiming to be 'Europe's greenest city' - has plans to cut down 20, 000 street trees in what Woodland Trust has called a tree massacre - while China has deployed 60,000 soldiers to plant trees to combat pollution. Frome meanwhile has an active tree-watch group, led by historian and expert Julian Hight who will be talking at the Gallery on August 16th. The exhibition is worth a visit: there are some wonderful images on display, though the drab Nash isn't one of them.

Here's a new thing for Frome: inspired by Bristol Rocks, we now have  Love on the Rocks happening around Frome: painted pebbles with cheery messages, secreted around the town for discovery and relocation. Toni from Fine Fettle discovered these two in Kingsway precinct. Bristol Post reports this fun-for-all craze has taken the city by storm. I have many pebbles of various sizes... I feel a rummage through the art drawer coming on.
To Bath now, for a spot of comedy at the Komedia for an Edinburgh Preview show by Holt & Talbot - Rosie & Christian to their friends - Mansplaining Feminism. Christian's commitment to this cause is upstaged from the start by Rosie who's upset because she heard a man shout ‘Great rack!’ - but not to her. Rosie’s grievance at her unappreciated mammaries continues rolling throughout the script like a cunningly-shot billiard ball as her partner writhes through varied situational sketches -mostly very funny anyway but all massively enhanced by the personalities of this combo.

Wallace & Gromit fans are probably aware already that a hunt for Gromits has been unleashed in Bristol this summer, with 67 differently-decorated models of characters from the movies positioned all around the city. A great idea for a Sunday family meet-up, we thought, and collected a trail map from St Mary's Redcliffe where the Bristol in Bloom Gromit sat. I can also report there's a Wallace in College Green, but all the other locations we planned to visit were overlaid by the weekend Harbour Festival so we had a terrific day out anyway.
Also in Bristol: South Western at Tobacco Factory is actually a production from the Wardrobe Theatre team, pulsing with their usual innovative energy and verve but in a bigger venue: their promo photos all look like they were snapped on a dark night in a dirty part of the docks and give absolutely no idea of the vitality of the show, so I've taken this image of the ensemble from their facebook page.  A cornish-pasty-style western rather than spaghetti, this revenge tale trails from Bristol to Lands End, full of local in-jokes but slickly produced and very funny. Think Hot Fuzz, with an echo of Thelma & Louise and a longing nod to Easy Rider. The best bits are the faux-film-making, with cuts and calls for close-ups, and calm technicians spraying fake blood, and the finale is superb. There are inspired ideas and marvellous moments and it's definitely a show you'd take your stage-struck children or students to show how challenging and transgressive and engaging and physical live theatre can be - but you might hope they'd use those qualities in a drama with more content than parody. On till July 27th.
Home news again, and Frome Unzipped continues to take baby-steps into the world: I'm delighted by comments in conversations and mini-reviews on facebook: 'It is superbly written' ... 'written in Crysse's inimitable lively and funky style'... 'beautifully written and so very well argued' .... 'all Froomies need to get a copy.'
Well there are copies in Hunting Raven, and a few more events coming up. As everyone is busy with jaunts camps and fesivals I've gone for series of 'soft' launches in different venues, and the first was hosted on Saturday by Martin Earley at Cornerhouse upstairs in the gin lounge - no author-reading, just biblophilic chats, and sales, and prosecco.

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