Sunday, June 05, 2022

Dancing with Death, and more cheerful things

"The Dance of Death is August Strindberg’s landmark drama about a marriage pushed to its limits," explains the promotion for the current productionadapted by Rebecca Lenkiewic, at Bath's Ustinov theatreOn a small island, an irrational tyrannical army captain controls his gloomy wife who regrets giving up her dramatic career, both snarling at the other but somehow feeding off this enough to survive. They are joined after a while by the wife's cousin but there’s no real shift in the unpleasant dynamic: it’s like Waiting for Godot without the subtlety or humour.  
Hilton McRae is powerful as the appalling husband; Lindsay Duncan as the appalling wife is more stagey, frittering sympathy by being generally annoying, while the cousin (Grainne Dromgoole) doesn't have much of a role except as a butt for their vindictive games. The set (by Grace Smart) 
is just that, a set. Changes  to the original play (the gender of the visitor, the repeatedly shouted expletives) seem repellent without resonance and the tone remains level throughout despite accelerating mini-dramas, with a sense of hopeless despair over the entire proceedings.  In short, this is a story of rage and recrimination, irreparably damaged relationships, mistrust and self-inflicted chaos. A story for our times.  photos Alex Brenner

It's always a pleasure and a privilege to be invited to join Eleanor Talbot on her weekly online programme Variations on a Theme and this week's upbeat show features the new-out poetry-&-pictures compilation from Caldew Press, words by me & Hazel Stewart and images from Mel Day. This image is her show's promo: us performing as Live & Lippy back in the day, and us on a weekend trip to Lille a couple of years ago, plus our book covers and launch promo. Her interview starts around 29 minutes into the show. As well as recording us reading some of her favourite solo pieces, Ellie has cleverly managed to create one of our shared poems - What's it like for you? - by splicing our recordings - and also included the soundtrack of one of the videos of us made by Howard Vause - you can view Onomatopoeia here, it's currently registering 8,910 views. Howard also made a great little vid of the poem that's (one of) the title(s) of this odd little volume - online here. It's one of my favourites. 

Black Swan Arts enjoyed a double opening on Friday, with Lucinda Burgess' exhibition On Repetition in the Long Gallery, and the Frome Creatives in the Round Tower.  Lucinda was a garden designer for many years and feels this has significantly informed her interest in materials that appear to change form, sometimes over time as with rusting metal, but also in different viewing conditions - as with poles viewed side-on.
In contrast to these thought-provoking large-scale pieces, the Frome Creatives have filled their exhibition area with a huge diversity of work of an extremely high standard - paintings and prints, photographs, ceramics, fabric creations and artefacts in every kind of media - a busy, friendly launch with much chat and bowls of chocolates. Postcards & cards available - recommended.
Music now, and a folksy vibe from Bama Mine from Bristol at Bar Lotte eon Wednesday. The monthly Independent Market survived, just about, the weekend rain, and provided some excellent performers on the Band Stage, including the trio Cura -who will be performing on this year's Farmfest. Sunday evening at The Cornerhouse put on its monthly jazz jam with the usual performers - here's Simon with singer Nicola Maskall, and Dave Wallace on bass.  
Ending this June medley with some out-and-about-this-week images: walking to Mells along the river, and a preview of three novels by Frome writers (to be featured later) displayed in Hunting Raven Books

and the roses in my garden. Just because...

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