4th June 2016
‘Pinky and Quirky’ – Bath Fringe Festival – Rondo Theatre.
The Rondo theatre is a small but perfectly formed theatre in Larkhall, in the backstreets of Bath. The front of house and bar is run by a team of volunteers and has been for years. It’s an intimate venue, perfect for ‘Pinky and Quirky’. The majority of the audience wore glasses and had a high proportion of white hair, with comedian and poet John Wood selling poetry books entitled ‘Ageing Gracefully’ it’s easy to see why.
Six men appear in floral shirts on stage, each one looking like someone’s dad, six microphones acquire a partner in crime and ‘Kettle of Fish’ begin tonight’s entertainment. The night was quite simply described by Wood’s as ‘a night of poetry readings and a choir’. However, the breadth and depth of the harmonies and rhythm delivered by this male A Cappella choir, or band of merry men keeps the audience laughing singing and clapping along all evening. The arrangements of Adam Barber and David Yapp are definitely quirky. We hit heady heights with a rendition of ‘Re:Your Brains’ by Jonathon Coulton with zombie audience participation. As Neil Bett from ‘Kettle of Fish’ noted we were ‘as wild as Bath gets on a Friday night’!
Underlying humour throughout both poetry and songs kept the energy and atmosphere light, playful and charming. Material is delivered with wicked glints in the eyes of the performers and there is a particular laid back Bath vibe in the air – be that heavily influenced by radio four, heart issues and Imodium. The perfect stage for Wood’s serious limericks that packed a punch after reams of light humour. Music hall or cabaret style rather than a multi-pronged art house performance. All in all a jolly evening out.
Link to review on Theatre Bath website.
Oh No! is joyously glorious! A facilitated adults playground contained within the theatre walls. As the audience enter the Wardrobe theatre the smell of joss sticks in the air transporting us back to our teenage bedrooms. Jamie Wood waits by the door and greets each and every audience member individually, he has wind chimes hanging from his fingers and ears. As people are seated he invites people to play the chimes hanging from his body, he deeply appreciates any musical effort and genuinely communicates patience and acceptance.
As the performance begins Jamie appears on stage looking remarkably like Jesus, humming as if in meditation and carrying the sun. He demands attention from every single eye in the theatre through his ability to be utterly authentically devoted to the present moment.
Deliciously childlike, Jamie dances in a bag with his toes peeking out amidst raucous laughter. Upon emerging he speaks to the audience individually naming their beauty and drawing a web of connectivity. Jamie tickles laughs from the depths of bellies simply by exercising his eyebrows.
The skill in which Jamie Woods builds anticipation from the audience, setting up expectations and then delivering them, ensures that he is masterfully bathing in waves of laughter time and time again. I did note that the audience was spectacularly juicy tonight. I recognised a whole front row of seasoned performers from ‘Beyond The Ridiculous’ in the audience. I’d be interested to see Oh No! performed in a theatre where the audience needed a little more massaging to get them going. However you are pretty much guaranteed an audience up for participation at the Wardrobe Theatre.
Story-telling in a bag, playing catch with the sun and channelling the spirits of John Lennon and Yoko Ono through clouds were a few of the moments the audience were encouraged and held by Jamie Woods to perform. Jamie has a unique ability to hold a safe space, I think many people who would normally say no, would have to say yes to Jamie. The highlight of the show was tenderly and unexpectedly created from asking a volunteer to get in his giant bag and take their clothes of and put them back on again. Playful giggles bubbled out from under the cloth and when they’d finished the bag was a den, child’s play, tears shed and secrets shared. The beauty of authenticity touched everyone who witnessed the open tenderness of this moment.
The culmination of this juicy joining in was a musical masterpiece, a chaotic cacophony and as it came to its ultimate climax and the lights went up, people turned to each other and said ‘What just happened?’ They left with eyes sparkling with magic stars and flew out of the wardrobe into the night.
A kaleidoscope of vulnerability, creativity, imagination and snippets of silliness – you’d be a fool to miss this one – part of Mayfest, it’s only here in Bristol for one more night. Go book a ticket right now.
Mayfest shows in Venues all over Bristol until 22nd May
Review by Anita MacCallum
It’s that time of year when the promise of light is in the air. For those of us who have been sat in the darkness for too long – this one is for you.
Hacking through bracken, words are tar and feathers – dense. I don’t see the features on anyone’s faces. Words hang in rusted barbed wire around necks of the bodies they are attached to. Dragging themselves along pavements. Day after grey day.
Sharp edged arrow words. Put things away properly. Sit up straighter. Only wear clean clothes. Don’t get too dirty. Don’t swear. Quieten down. Don’t – just don’t. Words written on my face in spit stink – invisible ink. I’m stained on the inside with congealed blood that doesn’t flow quite right.
Don’t speak up. Keep the words in.
Don’t stand out.
Speak when you’re spoken too.
Keep your mouth shut.
Keep the lid on.
Don’t let anything out.
Don’t break things.
Makes me want to do things that I shouldn’t. Makes me want to shout and scream and tip things over, pour paint on the floor – rip my clothes, feel fear on purpose as a way of gaining some kind of control. Does that make sense? And when I can’t feel anything and I find myself in the company of strangers that want me to organise myself, have the right clip board, or a different face or proper hair, or a proper thing to say, or a quieter laugh, or just be quieter and don’t laugh. That’s when things get messy. In my head. That’s when I have to shrink in order to grow fast, it’s like I have to crouch down small in a pretend game of hide and seek and then build my energy, build it and build it and build it until I can hide no longer and everything just bursts out.
Rip and pour and create in a whirlwind of not knowing what comes next because there is no actual order. There is no supposed to and right and wrong in this crazy fucked up world that we live in. It just is. It just is. And without starting from a place of mess I don’t know how anything could actually begin. Rip up all instructions and burn them, stand in the glow of the fire and wait until I know what to do next. If nothing comes, I’ll draw with the ash from the embers and spit into the dirt on the ground and that will be my fresh start. Because anything else is a lie. And if nothing else on this else earth holds true, I know I can tell the truth and start at the beginning.
What will you do when the words you bear on your back begin to squash you flat?
What do you do?
Put the children in bed and cry? Drink until you forget?
What do you do?
Burn things, make fires, read yourself into another world, change your hair, your clothes, your food. Or does everything stay the same? Roll in soft cotton duvets and drink tea until you cannot contain any more liquid. Stare at screens until the scene in front of you sleeps.
All these things and more.
Put away sharp objects and dance in spilt ink, tracing your footsteps to the next place.
All these things and more.
These words will go and days will pass.
You just are. You will find your truth and begin. Begin again.
Dismaland has created a media tornado travelling across the UK, sucking up all in it’s path and delivering them far from home, to a land of make believe. Except it’s not, not really. The media hype surrounding Dismaland has sucked me in and created a desire for a ticket but it has not delivered me far from home – not at all. Do I want to go and witness the art works that have actualised some of the great truths, hidden behind the lies of our media machine? Yes, yes I do. Do I want to go enough to queue for hours on end, to feast my greedy eyes on the real life reflected back at me, in a twisted truth called reality? Let me think… The part of the exhibit that has made the biggest impression is the boats with refuges inside. Yes I know there are refuges in Calais, hundreds of them, with not enough clothes, food or dignity to go around yes I realise most of these people will wait days, months, sometimes years to get to a place where they can start to re-build their lives. Do I want to go and spent a pound to drive an artists impression of these people around back and forth across a small dirty pond? Or should I donate that money to the people who don’t actually have enough food tonight?
The Dismaland staff who quite rightly look dismal, don’t make me smile or applaud the satire streaked over their attire. It makes me want to march for minimum wage to rise now, not in six years time.
Pixelated princess does please me, to see distortion in the packaged beauty pumped out from Disney – a glitch in the mask of perfection – allows me to breathe a little more freely.
Don’t get me wrong, Dismaland is genius, choosing to bring Weston Super Mare a much needed tourism boost is a gift. Choosing to deposit real life un-censored real life observations in a theme park setting – spot on. As the rise in ‘haves’ spending money on escapism, while the ‘have not’s’ desperately try to dig their way out – it’s reassuring to me that truth is represented through art. In some small way the world is unfolding as it must and in times of great need artists become vital and socially essential, to document what is happening and stop our history from disappearing. To witness the thoughts on our streets, directly below the media out-pourings – there are getting fewer places to hide.
As I walk though Bristol City centre to work there are more people sleeping rough, more people hungry. Last week I caught myself hurrying by a woman, as she lay on the pavement, red-eyed, wild haired, colouring the air blue with her abuse aimed towards the world. I picked out the words ‘give some bread, just give me some bread’ as she threw a can of opened cider down the road. A small place inside my body, must have been my heart opened up , as I saw beneath her mask of anger to her hungry despair. I shared my lunch with her, wasn’t much but she thanked me, until I was out of site. I hurried on my way to work, having passed by the man who snored loudly in the Bear Pit, face pressed against concrete on the floor in the tunnel; the woman I mistook for a pile of rubbish, until I saw her move; the man who had just left hospital, tubes still in his hand, wanting money for dinner; the man who.. and the woman that… and the child that had nothing…. and I thought…
I thought, yes I would love to go and feast my hungry eyes, fill my belly with voyeuristic plenty, by immersing myself in the genius inspiration of Dismaland. However if I do make it there and even if I don’t I will offset my time by immersing myself in the real life of my home town – Bansky’s home town and make the time to share more than just my lunch, as I hurry on by to my way to work.
I’ve just joined Acorn communities, to volunteer my time and skills. They have been invited by Banksy to spread the word about building community and ‘doing something about it’. Join in!
I go to a gym, nothing wrong with that right? I have got to that age where frankly if I don’t exercise the many years of drinking and body abuse I have indulged in, starts to show. There were many obstacles for me to overcome before I could go regularly to a gym, the obvious being body image. I never, NEVER, expected that I would voluntarily go to a place to exercise.