Thursday, August 02, 2018

Two away-days ~ & Frome still hectic in summer heat

London on a hot day... there seem to be more people here than actually live in the world, I think as I walk from Paddington to Covent Garden, fantasising continents emptied, or perhaps some of the crowd are holograms. I'm here to see The Lieutenant of Inishmore, my birthday present to myself, at the Noel Coward, a classic end-19C theatre all gilded and rococo-styled with pink velvet seats.
For some reason I thought this would be a sad Synge-style tale of auld Ireland. It’s actually a black comedy. Martin McDonagh wrote this extreme parody while the Good Friday peace treaty was precarious, and there’s still plenty of provocative edge in this Father-Ted-meets-Pulp-Fiction tale of patriot terrorists - in this case, the IRA & all who splinter within it. It's savage, and hilarious, and astoundingly well-acted - Aiden Taylor is mesmeric - he says every word like it’s just come to his mind, a rare and brilliant quality in an actor. Dennis Conway as his father Donny is great - ‘It’s incidents like this that put tourists off’ he opines glumly as his living-room takes on the vista of an abattoir - and Charlie Murphy, the dead-shot Bonnie to Paidraic's Clyde, is sublime when she sings The Patriot Game. The production has been very well-received, with several ★★★★★ reviews - there's a roundup here. Praise is unfaltering for Aiden Turner's psychotic Padraic - 'magnetic' is a frequent choice in reviews, in some 'smouldering' and in others 'animal'. Time Out was specific: Turner is terrific - I mean, yes, he would surely be the most handsome terrorist to have ever lived, but get past the hunkiness and he is wonderful, perfectly nailing Padraic’s weirdly endearing mix of innocence, zealotry and murderous rage.
 'A violent play that's wholeheartedly anti-violence' was the playwright's aim: Michael Grandage's direction, enhanced by gory props, maximises both violence & comedy, but the indictment of terrorism is plangent too.  There's a throw-away comment from Donny on INLA, the anti-Ceasefire splinter-group: 'Some folk join the IRA to travel. With INLA you never leave the Falls.'  The reference might be missed by a modern audience, but I remember the Falls Road in Belfast, where catholic flats were peppered night after night with protestant bullets and the British Army's CS gas rained down each ferocious weekend - that was neutral, of course, it just poisoned us all, especially the babies.

Frome meanwhile is once again alive to the sound of music, with the fantastic Pete Gage Band on top form at Sam's Kitchen, and the wonderful Raggedy Men at the Griffin - the gigs overlapped so apologies to the  for missing the first set of a brilliant session of authentic 70s punk with style, soul, & splendid riffs.
The regular Roots Session at the Grain Bar this week brought us the compelling world-folk sounds of Light Garden.

Upfest 2018 arrived in Bristol last weekend, bringing masses of street artists and creative events to Bedminster - I missed the active days due to my boiler having adverse reaction to a routine service and emoting all over the conservatory, but the buildings of course were still there on Tuesday and North Street's pageantry is well worth a visit. Two of Frome's finest were represented - Paris and Boswell - as well as names from Argentina and Connecticut to Czech Republic, Greece and India, with immensely varied styles. There was bit of a Simpsons theme going on too but the cartoons were less impressive than the amazing large-scale portraits and life-like works.
I'll conclude this bulletin with an update on Frome Unzipped, which was the focus of a fascinating discussion at Rye Bakery last week led by Peter Macfadyen, founder of Independents for Frome, and a feature in Frome Times, our local news provider which always punches above its weight as a freebie, celebrating creativity and positive news. Thanks, Ben & team, for this one:

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