Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Lights, action, camera - it's festivity time

As November ended, Frome officially began its seasonal celebrations. We had the traditional tree-light-switch-on with traditional carols on Friday - after a stunningly beautiful lantern procession led by a less-traditional samba band. Hundreds of exquisite paper lanterns, created in free workshops led by talented Mel Day and Aliss Vaas, glimmered their way down to the town centre to Light the Night - another of those wonderful Frome-style creative events that engage every age.
Once the lantern spectacular had dispersed, the evening festivities continued at Three Swans with the second of Paul Kirtley's Bare to the Bones charity gigs, this one at Three Swans, - excellent entertainment from fabulous local musicians. Here's the amazing Original Barn Finds band, and me doing a spot of morally dubious poetry - thanks Mike Grenville for the snap!

Saturday night resounded with clashing bands, metaphorically speaking, as the All Stars Christmas Charity Doo opened with phenomenally fabulous new band Back of the Bus, while the Cornerhouse featured popular dance-generators Purple Fish. And another party benefit gig at 23 Bath Street completed the weekend with the fabulously fearsome (I'm running out of adjectives here) Back Wood Redeemers ripping up Sunday afternoon with a version of This Train Is Bound For Glory to terrify the angels as well as the sinners.

Sunday being the first one of December, it was of course our glittery Frome Independent market day with all the usual goodies in the star-spangled streets and carol singers. Magpie Market in the Cheese and Grain was crammed with present-buying opportunities - including the usual Frome Writers Collective stall, delightfully decorated and here also festooned by me - thanks Dizzy Greenfield for the promo. The new exhibition at Black Swan Arts is also full of buyables and collectibles: Extremely Textiles is the showcase of 9 very different local artists, all continuing Frome's traditional textile craft though mainly in non-traditional ways. Words at the Black Swan met for a poetry workshop led by Louise Green, our group of nine focusing on different pieces - interestingly, four writers chose this amazing portrait of a couple on the tube, created by Julie Heaton on dissolvable fabric so the entire image is created by the stitching threads.

There is no doubt that The Model Apartment at Bath’s Ustinov Studio, directed by Laurence Boswell, is superbly acted. Whether or not you like the play will be a more individual matter. The theme - the elephant in the spotlight you might say - is the Jewish experience of WW2 and playwright Donald Margullies uses dramatic format to explore inheritance of trauma as represented by the three central characters: Lola and Max who believed they can escape their demons in a new life in Florida, and their their daughter Debby, the demon they cannot escape.  Neil, the fourth character and a Brooklyn street-orphan, might have become sidelined within this treatise on Nazi-related suffering so big credit to Enyi Okoronkwo who was impressive in this role.
The story is saturated with symbolism: the apartment itself is temporary while the older couple await their real destination, and is also fake: the entertainments systems are empty and the fridge has no plug - their escape, in short, has no reality. Max (Ian Gelder) copes by blanking out in sleep, Lola (Diana Quick) resorts to repeating anecdotes in which she was best friend and mentor to Ann Frank. So how does their daughter Debby (Emily Bruni) cope? That’s the most scarily unsuccessful struggle of all. The story seems a reproach as well as a reminder - but November is month for Remembrance.  Image Simon Annand

Final thought for the week: As readers of Frome Unzipped will know, 'dissent' in all its social aspects emerged, from my research into the town's history, as a strong thread in my book, so when I heard of the special exhibition at the British Museum on that topic, I definitely had to go. I Object is curated by media's pet imp Ian Hislop, who pledged to 'investigate what the downtrodden, the forgotten, the protestors' had to say about history, so it seemed reasonable to expect caustic comment at least but this meagre collection is captioned by puerile speech bubbles and padded by images of Mr Hislop walking about, presumably wishing he could find something more relevant than well-known political cartoons and the odd bit of graffiti - and as for the protest-badge tee-shirt display, I've got more myself. There was one note of real dissent: a hand-printed card at the exit that read BRITISH MUSEUM RETURN YOUR STOLEN LOOT BACK WHERE IT BELONGS - so here's a picture of  one of the Elgin Marbles, now renamed The Parthenon Sculptures. Despite being hacked into chunks for transport and then further damaged by the museum's inappropriate cleaning attempts, they still look pretty impressive. They'd look even better in Athens. I Object is on till January. If you're in the area with time to spare, go instead to Camellia's, the lovely rococo teashop over the road, and sit among flowers under the chandelier. It will be cheaper and you'll enjoy it more. 

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