Almost Alice! – comment

Well done to Make the Move this Sunday afternoon for their circus school rendition of “Alice in Wonderland”, their circus school workshop at the old BHS store and for all the hard work put in by the volunteers. They are a credit to all the hard work and trying times experienced over the last couple of years. What an amazingly talented group of people they are.

Looking forward to seeing you all at your next performance.

Susan McGill

Fringe theatrefest Barnstaple. Who would have known!

Always exciting to see people ‘finding’ Fringe TheatreFest

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Anyone who knows me, knows that this whole drama, singing and dancing malarkey has been forced on me by my first born. So why am I writing my blog about it? Well turns out Barnstaple theatrefest is amazing. So much variety to suit all tastes.

Now I’ve know about theatrefest for a few years now and have avoided. Nothing personal, just not my thing. But this year the first born is actually taking part with Total Theatre School.

I arrived in Barnstaple today, parked up and got the message that total theatre had to cancel today’s show, due to the lead being extremely ill (heartbreaking for the lad, and hope he is better very soon). It will have been a devastating blow for them all. I really feel for them, as I know how hard they have all worked. But I was still going to make sure my kids would…

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This one got us talking!

Melanie Branton’s My Cloth-Eared Heart, a spoken word performance about a thirty-year epic quest for love, certainly got this group of friends talking. Brilliantly honest? Uncomfortable overshare? Did you see it? What did you think?

It was a girls’ night out so we chose a female-friendly topic: a show about a singleton’s quest for love. We’re still friends, of course, but it did divide opinion…here’s what we thought:

Alisha Kaliciak: ‘Cocktailing poetry, personal narrative and a fetching red polka dot dress, the ongoing quest to find a partner now in her 50s has led Melanie to examine the reasons that might preclude her from doing so. It’s a high energy, boldly intimate piece that was sustained and seamlessly delivered. Marvel at her metaphors which move between humour and dangerous revelations.’

Anita Butler: ‘Melanie laid her soul on a slab with her one-woman spoken word show. The poetry is intimidatingly good — some of the wordplay is gorgeous, and she did have me hanging on every word. However, the performance was too tightly controlled and perfect for me, too keen to impress; raw and full-on yet curiously lacking in vulnerability. I’d have preferred her cloth-eared heart to have a few frays around the edges.’

Sophie Ellis: ‘If you’re looking for easy-going, rhyming poetry, you’re in the wrong place. The poems are very personal. It makes for uncomfortable listening, and at times you don’t know where to look, but the deep subject matter in this brilliant show needs to be recognised.’

Rosanna Rothery: ‘Melanie is amazingly talented. Her crafting of words is second to none and her delivery raw and direct. Did I find the material uncomfortable? Boy yes! Did I want to be taken to those dark places of the victim? Boy no! Did I admire her honesty. Undoubtedly. Although I was left pondering: “if her sentiments about stalking men had been expressed by a male – how would we have reacted?”‘

Catch the show at The Southgate on Sunday at 4.45pm.

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Bawdy, saucy, lecherous, lusty, lewd,…you get the picture

The Miller’s Story: Anita Butler went along in search of Mediaeval filth — and she got it!

Gather round for Chaucer’s naughty story. You know, the one that’s a bit — ahem — ‘cheeky’. Many know the notorious bit with the window, but the surprise ending is often forgotten amid the saucy bawdiness.

Which is no bad thing. I went along craving Mediaeval filth and that is what I got. The Miller’s wife, for a start — what a woman! Actor Simon Thompson was brilliant at creating her character with a simple prop and a voice. That iconic Commedia dell’arte hooked nose took us straight to Mr Punch (well, her name is Judy). The scene where he used a member of the audience to recreate the Miller’s wooing of Judy was also inspired.

Bawdy, saucy, lecherous, lusty, lewd, this is a story that taps into the familiar templates and archetypes of Olde Englande. You’ll need to lean in a bit as, in creating an intimate atmosphere, the Miller’s voice went a bit low at times and could have done with a bit more projection. Not that this prevented me from being spellbound. Who needs a mobile phone when you have storytelling like this?

More ale? We all know what the answer to that is!

The Miller’s Story by Clown Noir is at St Anne’s Arts Centre on Sunday at 4pm.

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