Reviewers, beer, back biting as John Clare & Tupac kick back

First week back at work after 15 days in the mad and chaotic world of Edinburgh (including my first ever experience of being papped – but that particular story probably needs to be kept under wraps for now). Much talk of reviews and reviewers at this years festival – including Guy Masterton’s arguing that there are just too many reviewers out there. But I enjoyed this blog – on one of those new sites masterton refers too – which both supports and counters his argument.

Having reviewers in though is no guarantee of reviews. We’re still waiting for a couple of ours to come out (though you can read the ones we had here). Back in 1995 I ran a venue called The Rifle Lodge in a masonic Hall (it’s now flats). One company – Alison Andrews Theatre Company I remember had created a beautiful, film noir esque work but had struggled for audiences throughout the festival. Then on the Friday before the festival ended the Guardian printed a fantastic review – and for 3 shows you couldn’t beg,borrow or steal a ticket. The irony was the review had been written in week 1…

One thing I can safely say is that Edinburgh is not good for the gut! It’s just too easy to grab a drink whilst meeting with a colleague or as you down some probably very unhealthy food. The result – bit of a shock when I step on the scales back home. So now our calendar is adorned with smiley faces – half a face for an alcohol free day, another half for significant exercise. Not sure how long I’ll be smiling…..

King Lear (in the Forest)


To Rendolsham on Thursday for @red_rose_chain ‘s King Lear – a stripped down, pantoesque version of Shakespeare’s tragedy. It was a genuinely captivating setting, especially as night fell, and one that the company made full use of (I particularly liked the way the ‘off stage’ forest was used as you glimpsed and saw characters go about their business suggesting the world outside the play). Safe to say I’ve never seen a Lear quite like it! It finishes this weekend – more info here

O and The temptation of the Adnams ale proved too much – by the time of Lear’s demise I’d consumed a bottle of Lighthouse and Ghost Ship. Am I the only person who prefers their bottled ale at shelf temperature rather than In a fridge?

Holywells Park Thomas Gainsborough

I’ve mentioned before that Ipswich has an awful lot going for it at the moment culturally so no surprises then to find another exciting initiative under way. Holywells Park was once the family seat of another famous brewing family – this time the Cobbolds who of course were intimately associated with one Margaret Catchpole – the subject of Eastern Angles 30th Anniversary Show (though Margaret would never have known the house as it once was)

The scheme will restore the stables and orangery and dramatically improve the landscape – it’s a pretty impressive scheme overall. You can find out more here

Time for a few quick plugs!

Some exciting shows coming into the Sjm over the next few weeks. MTP and Frinton Summer Theatre are bringing a production of Tom Lehrar’s Tomfoolery to us at the beginning of September. You can read press on the show here and read a **** review from Whats on Stage here. Here is the man himself in the Vatican Rag:-

That’s followed by Two Rivers own production of Calendar Girls (along with 100s of other companies who have jumped at the opportunity to stage the show after Samuel French released the rights for 18 months). Needless to say the publishers have been deluged with interest resulting in a feast of ‘backbiting, bitching and unhappiness’ (see here). You’ll have to beg, borrow or go nude for a ticket though – but more info can be found here.

detail from The Boat Project

If you are around next weekend do look out for The Boat Project which is at the Great Yarmouth Festival this weekend (1+2 Sept) and Wells Next the Sea Pirate Festival (8+9 Sept). I’m not really into boats but this one is truly beautiful – it’s made up of literally 1000’s of donated pieces of wood – each donation having it’s own personal story. It’s well worth seeing!

As for me this weekend I’ll be pulling on my whites again for Brightlingsea IIs (so another reminder about this blog and then on Sunday off to see the verbatim play about the Ipswich murders – London Road

And metro boulot dodo’s trackdown, both at the national. Should be quite a double bill!

Next week we start rehearsals for our new play by Tony Ramsay – The Long Life and Great Good Fortune of john Clare. Ivan Cutting is directing and the show will premiere at John Clare Cottage on the 12th September. Up in edinburgh we’d been to see shows by Peterborough poets mark Grist and Mixy. Together the pair perform as Dead Poets (a show that was originally a Phrased & Confused commission). They’ve just released a live CD (made at the Soho Theatre where I heart Peterborough is heading in October). The show is built around the question can poets and rappers work together? Having been for marriage counselling the pair agree to try each others mediums. So Mixy embarks on a poetic journey with John Clare – you can’t get the track on line so you’ll just have to buy/download their live CD. Not surprisingly the resulting work goes down a very different route(‘I see john Clare and Tupac kicking back having a chat’) to Tony Ramsay’s immaginative re-visiting of the life of John Clare but both are very well worth checking out!

And to finish with heres Richard Burton – in his beautiful, poetic voice reading John Clare’s poem Autumn

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