Monday, August 26, 2019

A dab of history & lashings of Bank Holiday sunshine

First to Bristol, where South-West based physical theatre company Le Navet Bete has unleashed their current touring show The Three Musketeers in Bristol Old Vic, recreating rollicking tales of 17th Century intrigue in a re-envisaging of the daring deeds of Athos, Porthos, and Aramis - and of course d'Artagnan - with a cast of royalty, whores, conspirators, spies, monarchs, as well as the evil Cardinal Richelieu... it's all loosely grounded in Alexandre Dumas' fictional historical tales but with firmer affiliation to physical theatre capers and Young Ones style comedy.
Some of the best bits are sheer pantomime - as when action moves to England with a duck-shooting scene on the estate of the Duke of Buckingham, and the audience becomes energetically involved in providing a torrent of mortally wounded ducks... Programme notes don't differentiate between performers - Dan Bianchi, Nick Bunt, Al Dunn, and Matt Freeman - but the script is credited to director John Nicholson, and the actors too, so this truly is a team effort. The set was designed by Ti Green and is complex enough for high-energy antics though unfortunately with a focus on extreme right of the stage which means if you're seated in the Dress Circle 'on the site of the original 1766 Row box' you miss any glimpse some of the crucial scenes.  Still, only 15 quid for over two hours of absurd comedy, and touring till October, so worth catching if you can.

Back in Frome, as usual there's been much live music. Tuesday saw the inaugural meeting of a new Open Mic event at the Three Swans, a great sing-along event where Paul Kirtley & I did our occasional double-act comprising my satiric protest-poem Bungee Jumping Crumblies and his song in response, and several new voices joined Paul for this now-monthly venture. Thanks Steve for the pic.

An excellent Roots session on Wednesday featured Phil Cooper with his Slight Band, supported by Jamie H Hawkins, who joined Phil on stage for a couple of numbers, too.
Both these singer-songwriters write their own material: Jamie's song Walking Into Doors is an especially poignant and powerful example of his skill. Phil's performance is alsways gripping, and he has a great knack of getting the audience to sing-along - and even rattle-a-shaky-egg-along. The track Only a Song from Phil's CD Thoughts and Observations gives a good idea of his range and intimate personal style.

Pete Gage at the Cornerhouse on Friday launched a scorching hot Bank Holiday weekend in style with his legendary blues-rock band, and Paul Kirtley's Bones gang were back with their charity buckets on Monday with a new host: The Mill at Rode, an idyllic venue for a sunny afternoon, with an excellent barbecue too.  Paul's closing song, the Woodstock classic, summed up the mood of the whole event: We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year old carbon, and we got to get ourselves back to the garden...
In fact everyone had such a good time that landlord John asked the band - and the barbecue - to do it all again on Bank Holiday Monday, so if you're reading this on posting date you can get along to the Rode and re-live the dream yourself.  And if not, have a great week anyway: simple pleasures are essential in troubled times. 

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