Sunday, August 19, 2007

Greetings from the Fringe!

Well, it's been a busy festival so far; and I've only been here a day and a half.

Hazel and I arrived in the car at about 0030 on Saturday morning; which wasn't bad given the stupid number of roadworks, etc on the A1. (cue 'What's your favourite motorway' discussion) I was very grateful that Hazel was there as firstly she's a very good manuscript holder when I have to lead conference calls whilst driving, and secondly, she took a few hours driving, which meant I didn't fall asleep at the wheel - useful! (The company was v good to have as well!).

Yesterday I didn't do much work; just kept up with the active issues and sending them off to the relevant people, which unfortunately at the moment is an occupational hazard.

Saw some amazing shows though - Gomito productions' Little Red Things: The Boy Who Wouldn't Listen was an amazing show - Their use of physical theatre, simple but effective props, and a beautifully vibrant script had me hanging on their every movement and word; never before have I seen a children's show that moved me that much. Hazel and Carl, who'd both seen the show last year (to which this is a sequel) were a little disappointed by the lack of new material, but that didn't matter to me as I hadn't seen them before!

The next show we saw was another Gomito related one - 'The Quest for the Divine Bottle' - I personally couldn't relate to this at all. Again the physical elements were brilliant; very polished movements and well timed dialog, but the script did nothing for me - at times crude, and only sometimes funny, it lacked cohesion so I was left wondering what the point of it was. Sorry Hazel - I have to disagree with you there!

Then, I (only just made it!) saw the absolutely amazing ASKA Japanese Drum Troupe show - I saw them (or a similar drum troupe - can't remember) last year, and was a little disappointed with it. This show however blew me away; I've rarely seen such energy put into music; and left the venue feeling physically tired! Their timing was impeccable, the number had something for everyone, and the show was so slickly produced that everyone was on the edge of their seats throughout. I managed to sneak a few pictures (well, they specified no flash photography!)

Next came a break, before seeing Sweeney Todd in Ctoo - Wow! The cast (quite a few of whom I know personally, but I'm not being biased here!) pulled off an absolutely brilliant, energetic and moving production which visually was superb. The choreography and costumes fitted brilliantly with this darkly funny show (which somehow I'd never previously managed to see or be involved in!). My criticisms were few; but a couple of the cast were clearly struggling a little with their voices at the end of a reasonably long hard run, and the lighting sufferred the fairly usual (for Cambridge theatre) lack of facelight in parts - moody shadows are all very well, but somehow were either overused or unintentional. That said, the simple set proved to be incredibly versatile; and the show went seamlessly from place to place without any need for scene changes - well done guys!

The last show of the evening was 'Jesus: The Guantanamo Years' which I never got around to seeing last year. What can I say? Superb! A very enlightened, take-no-prisoners view of the world told from a brilliantly satirical (and not at all offensive) viewpoint - that of Jesus returned to the modern day. His views articulate a number of mine with the main takehome message being live and let live - Religion is not there to create conflict, but to provide a seldom found reassurance to people about their lives and how to live them. He's clearly not a performer, but rather than subtract from the show, this led the audience to really empathising with his views; and the power of his deeply entrenched beliefs. Unfortunately it's over for this year at the fringe, but I believe that he's touring at present; do go and see it if you can!

All in all a great selection of shows for the first day - thanks to Hazel for the suggestions of all but ASKA! I'm not seeing anything today, except possibly The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe (another ADC show who's cast flat I'm staying in!) Need to catch up on a bit of work before starting 9-5s on Monday (that's the theory anyway; really ought to stop writing this!).

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