FREE TAKE ONE!
// GIVE ME A BREAK // Our favourite romantic V-day getaways // BRISTOL IN 2050 // What might the future hold?
BRISTOL & bATH'S MAGAZINE
nO.977 //feb2012 // www.venue.co.uk
// CHRIS ADDISON // Keeping us in the loop // A DANGEROUS METHOD // On the couch with Keira Knightley, Michael Fassbender and Viggo Mortensen
Does Shakespeare still matter? Cover 977.indd 1
1/25/2012 6:03:23 PM
1/25/2012 12:28:14 PM
Going out this month? see venue.co.uk - the new home of Venue’s what’s on listings
p.16 Shakespearing You can’t miss the World’s Most Famous Playwright this month. But as the Shakespeare Unplugged Festival takes over Bath, and the venerable Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory season opens in Bristol, are we suffering from Bardic overload? Or is ol’ Will still as relevant, topical and perspicacious as ever?
p.28 Chris Addison
PIC: RORY KINNEAR IN THE NATIONAL THEATRE’S 2010 PRODUCTION OF ‘HAMLET’
The smart, astute and pin-sharp stand-up, TV face and star of ‘In The Loop’/‘The Thick Of It’ comes to the Colston Hall.
p.24 Let’s get outta here… Cosy cottages, boutiquey B&Bs, homely hotels and gorgeous getaways – we lean on the local travel gurus at Alastair Sawday’s to impart the most romantic breaks to treat a lovely one to this Valentine’s Day.
Regulars Features p.12 Melissa Blease gets obsessed. p.14 Series producer Vanessa Berlowitz on the magnificent Bristol-made BBC series ‘Frozen Planet’ p.30 Gaze upon the Venue crystal ball as we look ahead to Bristol in 2050
// inbox // p.4 Letters, opinion, oddness…
// i saw you // p.6 The weird, the wonderful, the worrying
// Film //
// Comedy //
p.38 Fassbender, Knightley and Mortensen in David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method
p.70 Likeable Londoner Jimmy McGhie plus the rest of February’s funniest folk
// Music // p.49 The biggest gigs for February
p.72 Galleries, exhibitions, installations, museums and more…
// Clubs //
// BOOKS //
p.61 Berlin’s techno titan Ben Klock comes to TB2
p.74 Our favourite reads and book-based news this month
// NEWSHOUND //
// Performance //
p.32 The wilting roses from the glorious bouquet of local news
p.67 Translunar Paradise at Bristol Old Vic: wordless, haunting, beautiful
Get every issue of venue delivered early
to your door for just £2.99/month direct debit or £37.50/year Phone 0117 934 3741 or email email@example.com to set it up. venuemagazine
Contents 977.indd 3
// ART //
// Days Out // p.76 Snow business: we check out the pick of West Country winter sports
// gay // p.81 Local LGBT events and news
february 2012 // 3
1/25/2012 3:30:14 PM
Letter of the month
A natural antidepressant // Greetings, oh sexual ones! On this fine January morning, I feel it is a good day to discuss how, among the millions of great things about sex, it is also amazing for your health. I love how, in old sitcoms, the married-couple-in-bed joke of “Not tonight, darling, I have a headache” gets so many laughs as husbands everywhere recoil with the memory of this phrase being uttered countless times during their married life. I hate to be disloyal to the ladies, but your excuse is a poor one and all you need to actually do to get rid of that pesky (and perhaps made-up) headache is to jump into bed and have a good old-fashioned throw-down with your beloved. If your headache is caused by stress, sex is actually as good a cure as ibuprofen and an early night. If you are bored by repetitive workouts in a gym full of health buffs who read your calorie monitor over your shoulder, then simply indulge in a f*ck
fest with your lover, because a good hour-long session will burn up to 600 calories. It boosts your cardiovascular health, releases endorphins that make you feel happy, and the more adventurous the positions, the more you tone up your wobbly bits. Another health benefit that is not as well known is the link between an active, healthy sex life and depression. Absorbing semen works as a natural antidepressant (do make sure you both pass all tests first, of course). Sex makes you feel calm and relaxed, helps you forget stress and also increases the bond between you and your partner. When you have sex, what is known as the ‘cuddle hormone’ is released: a hormone that gives you both that feeling of intimacy and closeness. This can be nothing but beneficial to your health and to your relationship, don’t you agree? So. The stress of Christmas on top of the humongous calorie consumption over the festive period are factors that
can make you feel less sexy. However, the best remedy to get yourself back on track and de-stress is sex – and plenty of it! Look forward to the year ahead by boosting your bedroom confidence; splash out on some sexy lingerie and kinky toys and make 2012 your most healthy and sexual year! Amy, Pomegranate Erotic Boutique
Ding dong! Amen to that, Amy. Phew. Ahem. Must remember that line about man-mayo being a natural antidepressant – of course, we all know it’s good for sore throats and cleansing facial skin, but that’s a new one on us (as it were). Anyway, you’ve certainly boosted the endorphins here at Venue HQ. Here’s a £10 Waterstone’s voucher for you, you saucy minx.
department would be a good thing all round. Holly R., Whitchurch
of a feature on p.31, you reveal that a Bristol-based scientist is on the brink of discovering how to generate electricity from urine! A potentially world-changing breakthrough – as your man says “imagine if your tinkle was one day as valuable as petrol?!” This should have been on the cover, flagged up in flashing lights. Incidentally, I imagine my urine is probably already as valuable as petrol, since it’s about 90% booze. Chris P. Duck, Montpelier
// Well, Prince Philip didn’t die but Christopher Hitchens did. That is all. Jess Tin, Easton
Woman on top? // So, you’re after a new editor, eh? Here’s hoping the successful candidate is female – doubtless you’re all progressive, metrosexual multimedia nodes up there in Venue Towers already, but still, I can’t help thinking a female touch and a bit more balance in the trouser
Issue 977 Shakespeare (pic: Harry Haysom, harryhaysom.co.uk)
4 // february 2012
Letters 977.indd 4
Venue Magazine Bristol Office Bristol News & Media, Temple Way, Bristol, BS99 7HE Tel 0117 942 8491 (12 lines) Fax 0117 934 3566 Bath Office Bath News & Media, Floor 2, Westpoint, James West St, Bath, BA1 1UN Tel 01225 429801
Fax 01225 447602 Email (Editorial): editor@ venue.co.uk / (Advertising): firstname.lastname@example.org / (Classified ads): email@example.com Website www.venue.co.uk Twitter @venueeditor Group Editor Dave Higgitt Editor-at-large Joe Spurgeon
Taking the p*ss // I can’t believe it. You give a whole page to some poodle-haired thesp guffing on about a play [Andy Burden in The Interview, issue 976, we presume], another to some phlegmladen hack guffing about electronic fags [And Another Thing, also issue 976] and then, buried in a throwaway paragraph in the back end
Associate Editor Mike White Studio Manager Cath Evans Design Team Sarah Clark, Sarah Malone Production Charis Munday Sub-Editors Tom Phillips, Jo Renshaw Advertising Manager Becky Davis Bristol Advertising Adam Burrows, Ben
Wright, Bex Baddiley Bath Advertising Ellie Pipe, Nejla Unal Distribution and Subscriptions Simon Butler Publication Co-ordinators Sam Ulewicz Art Steve Wright Books Joe Spurgeon Classical Paul Riley Clubs Adam Burrows Comedy Steve Wright
Days Out Anna Britten Dance Steve Wright Events Mike White Film Robin Askew Jazz Tony Benjamin Lesbian & Gay Darryl Bullock News Eugene Byrne Rock Leah Pritchard Roots Leah Pritchard Skills Anna Britten Sport Simon Fry Theatre Steve Wright
1/25/2012 4:07:24 PM
firstname.lastname@example.org Each Letter of the Month receives a £10 voucher to spend in any Waterstone’s store nationwide.
// SEVERN BORE // Opinion. If you like that sort of thing...
Silly Nutkins // Well done, Venue – you managed to recommend becoming a veggie and eating squirrels on the same page of the same feature (Save It!, issue 976). Keep up the good work etc. Ben, by email
Up the junction
// That ‘Occupy’ bunch, eh? Gawd luv ‘em. In the picture beside your ‘Letter of the Month’ last issue, there was a scrappy hand-written sign, sellotaped to a tree no less, which said ‘Take Occupy Seriously Now or we’ll occupy the Olympics’. That’ll really shake up the financial world, won’t it? Putting up some tents near a big, daft festival of running and jumping. I bet Lord Coe and his cronies are really trembling in their plimsolls. Come on, Occupiers, get some imagination.
Letters 977.indd 5
Mobilising regional groups and occupying every major motorway junction would have a bigger effect – with considerably less security to overcome. And you’d be doing the environment a massive favour by stopping all those bloody poison-emitting cars and encouraging people onto alternative forms of transport. Two birds, one stone. See you on the M32? Thought not… Steve Bligh, by email
Model behaviour Well done on not having too much fashion guff in your funny little magazine. I wonder why it is that models generally in fashion shoots and stuff are getting thinner and thinner, whilst actual real people who aren’t models are getting fatter and fatter. It’s like we’re all becoming the complete opposite of the ideal that we’re all supposed to aspire to. And the
shop mannequins! They also look nothing like real people. By real people of course I mean fat people. Would you be more tempted to buy clothes from a shop that put fat mannequins in its windows? You know, mannequins that actually look like the dumpy, muffin-topped, Greggs-fed lumps that wander around Cabot Circus every Saturday? The glazed-eyed, Ugg-booted, bottle-tanned fatsos clutching armloads of ‘must-have’ bargains from this season’s hottest new look. Do they look at the mannequins and the models in the windows and think ‘yep, I’m totally going to look like that once I’ve rolled my lardy bits into this backless number’? Nope, they’re not fooled. But they still buy all that sh*t, day after day, week after week. So I guess they are fooled, after all. Is it lunchtime already? Wendy Windblows, by email
// A small story in the Evening Post (see tinyurl.com/7x9qaks) caught my eye a few weeks ago. It’s just another report about a drugs bust. It could have happened anywhere in Britain, though in this case it was in Weston-superMare, and it shows how social policy and wider society are completely insane when it comes to dealing with drugs and the underclass. Briefly, five people in their 30s and 40s were jailed for a collective total of 12 years after being caught dealing heroin and crack cocaine to undercover police officers. All were dealing to support their own habits, and most had lengthy strings of previous drug-related convictions. Some had corresponding histories of alcoholism, too. These are not kingpins of the narcotic underworld, but hopeless losers. One is the mother of two children. How is spending huge amounts of money on police and court time, and on imprisoning these people rational? We take a problem for social and medical services and dump it on an overstretched prison system. With spending cuts hollowing out public services, we’re going to get more of this. We’ll have more and more members of the underclass living in squalor or on the streets eking out utterly miserable existences addicted to drink and drugs. If walking down Stokes Croft in recent weeks is anything to go by, there are already lots more junkies and street-drinkers out there. Would it kill us, would it destroy the careers of any politicians, and would it cost the public purse any extra, to stop treating addicts like criminals, and regard them as sick people in need of help instead? What we have at the moment is a system that is expensive, inhumane and vindictive. It helps no-one and solves nothing.
february 2012 // 5
1/25/2012 12:30:50 PM
// Reach out
I SAW YOU
I Saw You driving you're motorbike so fast all I could make out were a pair of eyebrows - HAPPY VALENTINES DAY! ' I Saw You - To my other mother. Thank u so very much for taking such good care of me . Love ur lil baby'ed xxx
I Saw You chasing me down that dark, wet alleyway singing teary ballads from ADELE-21. Stop doing that, it's frightening. I Saw You at Teachings in Dub at the trinity centre you were the extremely tall handsome man, and i was the chubby girl with dark hair. I didn't speak to you but i can remember thinking your presence was awesome. :)
I Saw You - Char char 4 Jeh Jeh 4eva <3
I Saw You on the 54 to Henleaze on Sunday evening. My text tone "The Teddy Bears' Picnic", yours Worms' "Incoming!". Should we have swapped numbers ? I Saw You and your beautifully excitable grey dog at Temple Meads station late on Sunday evening. We crossed paths after the barriers and I walked behind you noticing that you have a small limp, you jumped into
6 // february 2012
I Saw You 977.indd 6
a car waiting at the bottom of the station road. I wish I had seized the moment to strike up a conversation...
I Saw You you saw me and since then we've seen lots more of each other. Oh what an almost a whole year it's been! Happy Valentines Mr Awesomely Gorgeous/Lush. I LOVE YOU!!! <3 xxxx I Saw You pretty waitress with the foreign accent who served me in Grounded. If my heart wasn't already shattered; each teeny, tiny shard reserved for another, I would have totally
I saw you
in the Wardrobe Theatre most Tuesday nights. You're a hulking great hunk of love that I wish I was closer to each day. I hope you live up to your name. Lots of love from ???
To submit an I Saw You email email@example.com web www.venue.co.uk/isawyou
VALENTINE'S SPECIAL loved to have shared a coffee with you sometime.
I Saw You Nicky! I saw you in lycra and never looked back. Mrs G x I Saw You - To the Jewish super star. Big tings, love n joy n of course rubber dingy rapids, Love love xx I Saw You - Curiouser and Curiouser, I feel like Alica in Wonderland now you've appeared from nowhere but linked with me in other ways. I can't wait to get to know more about you. Safe X
I Saw You …tinkering away on your laptop, programming, thinking, inventing, solving, creating! The pennies will be rolling in one day monkey, keep going! LBS x x x
I Saw You
- Well actually I heard about you feeding up my 'friend' while I went away, I thought we had something special... you can kiss goodbye to your Valentines baddiley wrapped kebab now!!!
I Saw You
- J + D... eating smoked salmon for breakfast and chillin' on the car bonnet contemplating life <3
I Saw You on the dancefloor, I find u really attractive. Would you go to bed with me?
I Saw You
I Saw You …beaching, biking
I Saw You
and boating around Kerala with me. Wish we could have stayed longer. Sorry about the crash.. Happy birthday and here’s to the next trip Chook. X
in the Pipe & Slippers on a sunday night, drinking pipe dreams mmm! looking moody in the Tube then with a creature in Sainsburys... now I see you all the time and love you more than kicks, prawns and Marc Jacobs x
I Saw You … I loves you more today than yesterday but not as much as tomorrow….. don’t I, Mind!
I Saw You England with your Greggs sausage rolls and drizzle. I love you but I’m not ready for you. Go away for a few more weeks would you? Thanks.
For more i saw you – plus I’m Sore At You – see: www.venue.co.uk/isawyou venuemagazine
1/25/2012 6:11:46 PM
BRISTOL & bATH'S mAGAZINE
february 2012 // 7
1/25/2012 1:00:11 PM
Professional & Accredited Courses We are pleased to announce that our new
LEVEL 2 COUNSELLING SKILLS & CONCEPTS ACCREDITED COURSE BY ABC AWARDS
10 WEEKS – PART TIME AT THE GRAMMER SCHOOL
BRISTOL Commencing Tuesday 21st February At 6.15pm – 9.15pm For further details or an application form contact
01803 315075 www.RIQTA.co.uk or firstname.lastname@example.org
8 // february 2012 riqta v977.indd 1 p8.indd 34
venuemagazine 1/25/2012 2:58:46 PM 1/25/2012 3:00:16 PM
Bristol & Bath in pictures
Are you a photographer? // Pro, semi-pro, amateur… if you have a Bristol or Bath-related pic and want to show if off, email it to email@example.com and the top three will get posted up here.
this mont winner!h's
‘Feathers Will Fly’ – Rory Mizen (top) “National Pillow Fight Day [yes, really] in Bristol on College Green gets a little bit mad.” Ffi: www.flickr. com/mizerphotography
‘Tuisku Sarrala’ – R Nicholson Bristol Roller Derby’s chairperson Tuisku Sarrala in full flight… Tuisku has been chosen to compete in the Roller Derby World Cup in December for her home country, Finland. The world cup is taking place in Toronto. Fancy having a crack yourself? See www.bristolrollerderby.com for more info.
This month’s prize (CDs or downloads up to a value of £50) is kindly provided by AudioGO (formerly BBC Audiobooks) who publish thousands of comedy, drama and factual programmes in both CD and downloadable format. Ffi: www.audiogo.co.uk
‘Lansdown Can’ – Miss Brianna Tent (right) “I saw the can one Sunday morning when I had my new camera on me. It was just beyond the tourist zone, where the litter pickers rarely stray, and I liked the idea that someone decided to spike it rather than chuck it on the ground. It must have felt very satisfying.”
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february 2012 // 9
1/24/2012 4:35:30 PM
February // OUR FAVOURITE
Going out this month? see venue.co.uk - the new home of Venue’s what’s on listings
TEN THINGS THIS MONTH...//
// When one boy smacks another in the face with a stick, their parents meet to discuss the matter like grown-ups. But, as Polanski’s sharp-scripted, scabrous and painfully funny film reveals, this is not as easy as it sounds – and soon their childish, even animalistic tendencies begin to take over… CARNAGE OPENS IN CINEMAS EVERYWHERE ON FRI 3 FEB. SEE WWW.VENUE.CO.UK FOR LOCAL SCREENING DETAILS.
Music Beth Jeans Houghton
Performance Death’s Cabaret
// People used to call her music folk, but imaginative Novocastrian song pixie BJH has bloomed into something altogether more intriguing, revealing a penchant for shimmering glam, gilded orchestral swell and sinister lyrical allusion.
// “The forbidden pleasures of cabaret make passionate love to classical music” as The Sacconi Quartet join forces with multi-talented Matthew Sharp just as Mistress Death comes to call. “Your time upon this earth is up. When life is in the balance, what will save you? Love, music or waking from the nightmare?”
BETH JEANS HOUGHTON LOUISIANA, BRISTOL, TUE 28 FEB. FFI: WWW.THELOUISIANA.NET
DEATH’S CABARET IS AT THE BRISTOL OLD VIC STUDIO, TUE 21-WED 22 FEB. SEE WWW.BRISTOLOLDVIC.ORG.UK FFI.
10 // February 2011
Recommended 977.indd 10
1/24/2012 4:37:57 PM
Film The Descendants
PIC CREDIT: STEVE GULLICK
// Has it really been seven years since ‘Sideways’? Apparently it has. Anyway, director Alexander Payne is back, this time casting George Clooney (on careertopping form) as a troubled Hawaiian landowner who discovers his wife’s been less than faithful and takes his unruly daughters on a trip to confront the man she’d been sleeping with. He may be living in paradise, but can he find any peace of mind? THE DESCENDANTS IS IN CINEMAS NOW. SEE WWW. VENUE.CO.UK FOR LOCAL SCREENING DETAILS.
4. Music King Creosote & John Hopkins
// The lilting voice of Kenny ‘King Creosote’ Anderson has a wistful beauty that’ll turn your spine into a lovely eel. For 2011’s Mercurynominated long player ‘Diamond Mine’ – an album seven years in the making – the King wove in field recordings and musique concrete from electronic auteur/producer Jon Hopkins to create a dream-laden love letter to his homelands in the East Neuk of Fife. It’s a tender, melancholy wonder. Get ’em booked while you can.
Music Cold Specks Film The Woman in Black // His first post-Potter role sees Daniel Radcliffe step warily into 18-cert Hammer horror territory, with a jumpy reworking of this classic ghost story. He’s a young solicitor despatched to a creepy stately home to unravel the affairs of a deceased client when he discovers – ulp! – that the house is not as empty as it first appeared…
KING CREOSOTE & JON HOPKINS THE FLEECE, BRISTOL, SUN 5 FEB. FFI: WWW. THEFLEECE.CO.UK
THE WOMAN IN BLACK OPENS ON FRI 10 FEB. SEE WWW. VENUE.CO.UK FOR LOCAL SCREENING DETAILS.
// A young face but a voice as old as the hills, Cold Specks is Canadian singer Al Spx, who channels her all into unadorned, spirit-rich ‘doom blues’. Said the Guardian: “A timeless and eerily comforting kind of meditation, on faith, loss and redemption, much like abolition-era hymnals – haunting and healing in equal measures.” COLD SPECKS LOUISIANA, BRISTOL, WED 29 FEB. FFI: WWW.THELOUISIANA.NET
Performance American Anthems
8. Comedy Steve Hughes // Heavy metal drummer turned stand-up – Steve Hughes is a mischievous, straight-talking Australian who spins common sense into comedy gold. STEVE HUGHES COMEDY BOX, BRISTOL, FRI 17-SAT 18 FEB.
Recommended 977.indd 11
PIC CREDIT: ALEX BRENNER
// A rock musical in which the rock radio station Route 66 FM leads the search for a disappeared rock legend called Rocky Rhodes, tracking him across America with an epic rock soundtrack to bring him back for one last rock concert. Which ought to be enough rock for anyone. AMERICAN ANTHEMS COLSTON HALL, BRISTOL, FRI 17 FEB. FFI: WWW.COLSTONHALL.ORG
9. Performance Translunar Paradise
// So poignant is this theatrical portrait of loss and lunar fantasy – performed wordlessly with haunting music and masks – that even our cold-hearted editor cried like a baby when he saw it at the Edinburgh Festival. TRANSLUNAR PARADISE BRISTOL OLD VIC STUDIO, TUE 7-SAT 11 FEB. FFI: WWW.BRISTOLOLDVIC.ORG.UK
february 2011 // 11
1/24/2012 4:40:24 PM
PIC: HANNAH DOMAGALA
And another thing... Melissa Blease wonders where the border lies between romance and obsession.
very breath you take, every move you make, every step you take, I’ll be watching you.” “You’d better run for your life, little girl; I’d rather see you dead than with another man.” “Whatever you do, I’ll be two steps behind you.” Eek! Is this a transcript from the diary of a deranged psychopath? Well, yes and no; we are in fact plundering lyrics from the Great Love Songs playlist in the name of Valentine’s Day. Lurking close to the surface amidst the inevitable tide of bland, saccharine-sweet ballads that a Google search for ‘love songs’ vomits back at you, the macabre melodies just keep on coming, in this instance courtesy of the Police, the Beatles and, erm, Def Leppard. But then again, even the less sinister chart toppers have a distinctly – well, sinister theme going on. I can’t help falling in love with you. Hopelessly devoted to you. I will always love you. Crazy in love? I’ll say! Are we a nation of romantics... or a barmy army of obsessives? At this time of year, I actually feel a bit sorry for all the healthy, balanced, genuinely nice guys (and despite the vile, murderous activities of the notso-sane ‘brotherhood’ who have dominated the headlines of late, there are plenty of them around) who are attempting to quit the
“Men turn into Patrick Bateman, while women turn into Bridget Jones.” 12 // february 2012
Another Thing 977.indd 12
Christian Bale as Patrick Batemen from the 2000 remake of 'American Psycho': argubaly, not the greatest Valentine's date of all time
single life this V-Day. What’s a guy to do? Buy her flowers, and you’re old-fashioned; pay for dinner and she’ll accuse you of attempting to buy time in bed; send her a Valentine’s Day card and you’re a cliché; turn up to meet her unexpectedly and you’re a stalker; play hard to get and you’re an egomaniac bastard – seriously, guys, you just can’t win. So how does New Millennium Man woo a Thoroughly Modern Miss without being accused of misogyny? Ha! Even quantum cosmologist Stephen Hawking can’t shed a light on this particular conundrum; the nation’s favourite geek recently declared that even he thinks women are “a complete mystery” – and I don’t blame him for such confusion. When it comes to the dating game, the contemporary sisterhood bends the rules faster than you can say ‘Chardonnay’. Flowers? We all love them. Pay for dinner? At
last! A Valentine’s Day card? How charming! He turns up to meet you unexpectedly? Thank goodness for touché éclat! He plays hard to get? Oh swoon, he’s Mr Darcy! So unless we have firm proof that the wooer in question has a reputation for ominously creepy behaviour, why all the accusations of him offering anything other than a brave attempt at attentiongrabbing? Because to accept his advances politely would be to suggest that we need a man to flatter us, feed us or generally lighten up our lives – Emily Pankhurst would surely turn in her grave! So ‘Mr Perfect’ gets the heave-ho, and obsession on both sides starts to fill the inevitable void. Men – battered by rejection and challenged by the threat of obsoletion – turn into Patrick Bateman, while women – confused by unrealistic expectations and images of perfection perpetuated in the media alongside those vile,
cautionary tales that grab the headlines – turn into Bridget Jones; the result is hardly a marriage made in heaven. Considering almost 2000 years have passed since the original St Valentine(s) bit the dust, we haven’t come very far, have we? And yet, the ritual that marks the anniversary of the death of numerous early Christian martyrs continues to thrive. Creepy love songs will dominate dancefloors across the land as restaurateurs curse all those tables-for-two, Clinton’s Cards prepare to have their dwindling profits bolstered and cheap confectionery in heart-shaped boxes ensures that lovesick behaviour comes with a side order of quease. Meanwhile, men and women across the land prepare to get their Mars/Venus passports renewed in readiness to take flight as crushes, flirtations and unrequited love turn into very unhealthy pastimes indeed.
1/24/2012 4:21:44 PM
Bristolâ€™s longest serving comedy venue promoting the best comedians from the Edinburgh Festival and the UK comedy circuit
ELIS JAMES Fri 3 & Sat 4 Feb
JIMMY McGHIE Fri 10 & Sat 11 Feb
STEVE HUGHES Fri 17 & Sat 18 Feb
MARK WATSON Mon 20 - Wed 22 Feb
ALUN COCHRANE Sat 25 & Sun 26 Feb
Full season line-up, video clips and book online:
www.thecomedybox.co.uk Pre-comedy dining and bar until 1am
Upstairs at the Hen & Chicken, 210 North Street, Southville, Bristol, BS3 1JF
february 2012 // 13
1/24/2012 12:49:15 PM
That's snow business
Death-defying helicopter rides, underwater killings and peeing in David Attenborough’s washbowl: Mike White talks to Vanessa Berlowitz (pictured left), series producer of ‘Frozen Planet’.
14 // february 2012
The Interview 977.indd 14
1/25/2012 2:30:39 PM
uddenly this ferocious blizzard came out of nowhere. It was as though our helicopter was being thrown around in a tumble-drier. I remember the very stoic Scottish pilot turned to me and said ‘I don’t know what the f*ck’s in charge of this helicopter but it certainly isn’t me!’” Vanessa Berlowitz risked her life several times over to make the BBC’s landmark natural history series ‘Frozen Planet’. Being battered by katabatic winds in a Royal Navy chopper over South Georgia was probably her scariest moment. There she was, on what looked like a benign, sunny day, when out of nowhere a massive polar storm blew up. “It’s a very strange island,” she says. “Completely frozen on one side, ice free on the other.” Vanessa and her team were in the icy bit, attempting to cross over a high mountain pass to get back to the other side and the safety of HMS Endurance, on which they were based. When the winds came, they had no option but to land. But, says Vanessa, “we had absolutely zero visibility – trying to land on snow in white-out conditions, we couldn’t even see where the ground was! It reminds you that however good your equipment is, the elements are very much in charge. You might think humans have conquered the poles – we certainly haven’t.” When it hit our screens last year, ‘Frozen Planet’ captured the imagination of millions. It took 30 different teams four years to make the seven-part series, working with everyone from Inuit tribesmen to the Royal Navy. Vanessa herself spent more than two months in Antarctica, six weeks in Greenland, a week at the North Pole and seven weeks in the Norwegian Arctic, where the thermometer frequently dipped below -50C. Vanessa’s love of the wild has its origins in a far hotter place. As well as being a professor of architecture, her father was a voluntary game warden in Zambia. “Most children get stories about Thomas the Tank Engine or something tame like that, but I was raised on real-life stories of Africa and its wildlife, and I vividly remember dreaming about this place that Dad had shown me in his photographs and wondering if one day I’d get out there.” She did get out there, and to a great many other places besides. Whilst still at college, she decided to climb every Mayan ruin in Central America: “I remember becoming absolutely fascinated with the wildlife, archaeology and people, and thinking to myself, ‘What a fantastic thing, to be able to document this’. Although the documenting back then was just amateur photography, I remember thinking ‘I can imagine doing this for the rest of my life.’” Twenty-ish years later, she’s still at it. But even in that short time, the world has changed – and the rate of that change gives her work an added urgency. “It’s definitely a motivating force, this feeling that we are creating an archive of what exists on this planet, a snapshot of the world we live in.
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The tragedy is that the snapshot is one that may be unrecognisable in 50 years. We were working with Inuits who would show you a view and explain how as children they would have been able to see sea ice to the horizon, and today the sea ice has gone. I saw formerly icebound places in Antarctica where grass is now growing. I couldn’t get my head around it,” says Vanessa. To communicate the full scope of what’s being lost, the ‘Frozen Planet’ team employed feature-film techniques: storytelling, drama and epic cinematography. Vanessa: “Everything is meticulously planned. We spent a year in research, talking to the experts. It’s a far cry from the old days, when a cameraman would go and sit on a rock for three months, and then you’d make something out of it in the cutting room. Nowadays we’re shooting with several cameras simultaneously, off multiple format platforms. You might have an aerial camera, a boat-based camera, a diving cameraman, and they’ve all got to be coordinated and financed, so you have to know exactly what you’re doing.” For Vanessa, the series’s “undercover star” was of one of the smallest creatures they encountered: the woolly bear, the world’s longest-living caterpillar. It was her husband, Mark Linfield, also a directorproducer on the series, who made this happen. “He was obsessed with trying to capture that sequence when we worked on ‘Planet Earth’, and it became a bit of a running joke, especially when he managed to continue his obsession on ‘Frozen Planet’,” says Vanessa. The woolly bear is a very tricksy creature to film, living as it does in the most extreme parts of the Canadian Arctic. “Never have more teams gone out to film one tiny animal. But the sequence is like magic. This animal allows itself to become completely frozen over in winter, then thaws out for the growing season, 14 years in a row – after which it lives for a day or two, mates and dies. The woolly bear epitomises the extreme struggle that creatures have adapting to the frozen parts of our planet. It’s a wonderful example of how extraordinary the natural world is and how brilliant some species are at adapting to it.” Some sequences, captivating though they were, proved too much for the final cut. “Ultimately we are showing nature red in tooth
“Our greatest role is to give people an understanding of these places and to inspire an emotional connection.” Vanessa Berlowitz, ‘Frozen Planet’
and claw,” says Vanessa. “I’m very sensitive to the fact that people – particularly those who live in urban environments – are very detached from the realities of the natural world. It can be quite shocking to see an animal kill another animal. What you see on the screen is a fraction of what we actually film. What hits the cutting-room floor is significantly more gory.” She talks of seal-hunting killer whales. “We filmed over 22 separate attacks and what they do underwater is extraordinary. They hunt as a family and they’re very concerned that the young whales don’t get injured by the seals... So the orcas have developed an elaborate hunting strategy to tire their prey out, and then they drag the seal under water and flay it alive, holding its tail and shaking the skin off, trying to avoid any contact with the teeth. That’s pretty difficult to watch, and there’s absolutely no way it would ever have got onto the screen.” Going to the loo at -60°C is harder for a woman than it is for a man. The technique is pretty straightforward: “Strip down to your thermals and do it very fast.” Vanessa describes being holed up in an ice camp 60 miles south of the North Pole, where there was one barrel where everyone went to pee. “There was a terrible blizzard which we were waiting to clear so we could escort David Attenborough to the Pole itself. Everyone else was in the mess tent and I’d struggled my way back to our shared tent alone and I just thought ‘I can’t face going out again to the pee barrel.’ It was so cold. So I have to admit to utilising David Attenborough’s wash bowl. He came back into the tent just as I was trying to sneak out to empty and wash it, but luckily he was more amused than anything else.” The big message behind the show is that the polar regions – among the world’s last great wildernesses, are changing beyond recognition. ‘Frozen Planet’ may well be David Attenborough’s last major expedition – it’s also the last chance to see these places before they melt away. “Our greatest role is to give people an understanding of these places and to inspire an emotional connection, hopefully that in turn leads to a desire to save those places. We work with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, trying to coordinate ‘Frozen Planet’ with their efforts to save marine habitat. This can then influence governments, our own included. So the show works both at a personal level, where a child comes up to me and says ‘I love penguins, I don’t want them to disappear’, and at a political level, becoming party to major strategic decisions. I would love to see the interest that we inspire become converted into real action.” ALASTAIR FOTHERGILL AND VANESSA BERLOWITZ DISCUSS THE MAKING OF FROZEN PLANET AT ST GEORGE’S BRISTOL ON MON 13 FEB, IN SUPPORT OF AVON WILDLIFE TRUST. FFI: WWW.STGEORGESBRISTOL.CO.UK
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z Called to the Bard Who better to ask about Shakespeare’s enduring relevance than the renowned Bristol company who have made Will their life’s work? On the eve of Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory’s thirteenth spring season, Steve Wright quizzes artistic director Andrew Hilton on the pleasures and pitfalls of Bard-worship.
here is certainly no ‘right’ way to do a Shakespeare play, though there are many that I would privately consider as wrong-headed or just plain silly.” Andrew Hilton knows more than most about staging Shakespeare. For the past 12 years Andrew has directed Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory, the company he created in 1999 and which has played a major role in south Bristol’s cultural renaissance, in lauded productions of Will’s work at the Southville theatre. Taut, atmospheric, emotionally acute and faithful to both Will’s words and his dramatic intentions, SATTF’s annual seasons at the Tob Fac are inkedin theatrical highlights for audiences and critics from Bristol and way beyond, as a string of annual national press reviews testifies. And, as Andrew is explaining, his approach to directing the Bard is based not on some timid deference to Shakespearean tradition, but on having the emotional intelligence to accurately read Shakespeare’s words, characters and scenarios. “For me there is one question every Shakespeare director should ask themselves: Whose mind am I really interested in – Shakespeare’s, or my own?” he continues. “If the honest answer is ‘Shakespeare’s’, then I think anything goes in one’s efforts to express the product of that mind on stage; even the substitution of AK47s for swords and computer screens for pen and paper – though they both ring alarm bells for me – are potentially completely legitimate strategies.” Before a six-week, late-spring run for ‘The Cherry Orchard’ (SATTF’s third Chekhov, and the augurs are good – but more of that nearer the time), Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory kick off their thirteenth Tobacco Factory season with ‘King Lear’. Will’s great (greatest?) tragedy, ‘Lear’ is also the play that began the company’s story on a late winter’s night in Southville 12 years ago. Crowds were small at the start of SATTF’s 2000 ‘Lear’ run, and for a while the company looked in danger of folding almost as soon as it had begun – until enthusiastic reviews in The Independent, Venue
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and elsewhere quickly turned fortunes around. So how will SATTF’s 2012 ‘Lear’ differ from that anxious but auspicious debut? Will it reflect changes to SATTF, Hilton or the wider world since then? “Peter Hall once said that Shakespeare turns a new face to every decade,” says Andrew. “In broad terms I think that is true – his work is continually alive because of its capacity to both reflect and interrogate the great spectrum of our experience, the whole range of our moods. “And without any intention on my part to ‘do it differently’ second time around, this ‘Lear’ will be different, both in terms of the personalities (the cast is completely new), and how the times have changed. The revolutions in the Middle East highlight Lear’s function as a despot – a benign one, if you compare him to Saddam, Gaddafi or Assad, but still an all-powerful, overbearing personality who rules his people, and defines their behaviour and relationships, as if they were all his children. Goneril, Regan, Edmund and Cornwall are not sweeties by any measure, but the energies released in them by Lear’s surrender of power in the play’s first scene can and should be compared to what we have been witnessing recently in Cairo, Homs and elsewhere. A thirst for self-respect and self-empowerment is common to both ‘Lear’ and modern politics.” ‘Lear’ can be seen variously as an examination of one man’s descent into madness; a stand-off
“The only real crime is to be dull, and to send people way from the theatre not wishing to see ‘Shakespeare’ again.”
between loyalty and ambition; a portrait of a warring family and its impact upon a whole nation; a study of love and duty, power and loss, good and evil. Hilton, though, is wary of ascribing such major themes to Shakespeare’s plays. “Some playwrights do set out to illustrate a thought or a concern, or – like Ibsen – they create a variety of different scenarios in which to wrestle with life-long obsessions. Shakespeare, though, began with pre-existing stories (‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’ is perhaps the only exception) and mined them for all the humanity and drama they could provoke in his imagination. There is no attempt to prove a hypothesis, or beat the drum for one cause or another. “‘Lear’ is about everything; what it is to be human. It’s about civilisation, and the substance of mankind stripped bare of it; it’s about growing up, and growing old; about self-knowledge and self-ignorance; about sexuality and power; about naming, about status and position, about identity itself.” And how, meanwhile, does the 2012 SATTF differ from the young company of 12 years ago? “We have learned a huge amount, although it has been a gradual process – I don’t recall any great lightning-flash revelations. I hope we are a little bolder in expression, as well as a little more skilled in the use of the Tobacco Factory space. We are fortunate in that we can spend a little more on design, which means that [designer] Harriet de Winton can achieve our ambitions to express the plays visually with greater clarity and detail.” What actors and directors must always strive for, says Andrew, is to treat Shakespeare’s work as living material. “His plays are not mere frameworks in which to stuff your own obsessions and worldview. Nor are they showcases for your own invention. Yes, you might hope to bring something ‘new’ to a Shakespeare performance, but it’s far better if that is provoked in rehearsal by the company’s responsiveness to the text, rather than some grand, pre-conceived scheme to relate the play to Watergate or Afghanistan.” Talking of setting, though, is it ever necessary to update Shakespeare’s rather rarefied worlds – a Renaissance court, early Medieval England – or are
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Factory hits: SATTF past productions (clockwise from this pic): 'Othello', 'Uncle Vanya', 'Titus Andronicus', 'Coriolanus', 'King Lear' & 'The Changeling'
Six seminal SATTF shows 1 King Lear (2000) Andrew: “It nearly saw our rapid demise, but we were saved by an enthusiastic half-page spread in The Independent by Toby O’Connor Morse, to whom we owe an everlasting debt. That turned our ship away from the rocks in a matter of hours.” 2 Coriolanus (2001) “That production thrilled Jeremy Kingston of The Times and, for the first time, saw us move a play across the centuries, from the Roman era to Europe in late-18th-century Europe.” 3 The Changeling (2004) SATTF’s first nonShakespeare production earned them a run at The Barbican in London.
his themes and moods universal enough to negate these quantum jumps in space and time? “There’s nothing wrong in asking your audience to make a leap of imagination in time, place and culture,” is Andrew’s firm belief. “Isn’t it rather patronising to assert that a Bedminster audience, for example, will ‘connect’ with ‘Measure for Measure’ only if it is set in contemporary Bristol, to assume that audiences want to see only their own immediate world portrayed on stage? The real task is to bring those distant times and cultures alive, not by slavish recreations in design and manners, but by the vivid representation of humanity.” Exotic clothes and outlandish settings, he insists, are no barrier to recognising your life and emotions in Shakespeare’s stories. “The danger lies in lazy assumptions about people ‘then’ being different; that sticking daggers in people, autocracy, the subjugation of women in society, were all unquestioned, unexplored facts of life in the past. I am currently gripped by the first series of ‘The Killing’ on DVD. It engages so strongly because, unlike run-of-the-mill crime thrillers, it takes grief seriously. That’s all we need to do to bring stories from the past alive – to take the
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human life within them seriously.” The Shakespeare Unplugged festival over in Bath (see page 18) is doing some very innovative things with Shakespeare’s work – reinterpretations, circus-style explorations, a ‘Macbeth’/‘Hamlet’/ ‘Lear’ soap opera omnibus. What are the opportunities, and the risks, involved for those who choose to play around with Shakespeare’s words? “I am no purist,” says Andrew. “The only real crime is to be dull, and to send people away from the theatre not wishing to see ‘Shakespeare’ again. But as for the plays ‘speaking for themselves’, they don’t. That is simply not in the nature of dramatic writing. Even at Shakespeare’s level, a play is a negotiation between author, actor, designer and director. If actors can’t interpret, they can’t truly engage; and if they can’t look at a text anew, they will just reach down their performances from the dusty old shelves of tradition. To act with conviction and passion actors must make choices and risk being wrong.” KING LEAR RUNS AT THE TOBACCO FACTORY, BRISTOL FROM THUR 9 FEB TO SAT 24 MAR. FFI: WWW.SATTF.ORG. UK SEE OVER THE PAGE FOR MORE SHAKESPEAREANA.
4 Titus Andronicus (2006) It was the production that nearly finished SATTF, playing to only 40% capacity. “We had misjudged our established audience and failed to expand it to include more of the younger generation who would have relished its bloody, black humour.” An appeal for funds followed, and SATTF’s audiences answered generously. 5 Othello (2007) “For me, one of our most complete achievements. Elegantly designed (by Chris Gylee), and I just couldn’t have assembled a better cast.” 6 Uncle Vanya (2009) The company’s first co-production with Bristol Old Vic – and their second Chekhov – later toured to the Galway Festival.
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From cover to
We asked UWE’s feverishly talented pool of illustration students to dream up with a front cover design for this month’s Shakespeare issue. Here’s what they came up with…
THE R E WINN
S JAMIE JONE
MATT HIGG INS
M HARRY HAYSO
ARSHALL CHARLIE M
BEN DORLING 18 // february 2012
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JAMES M cCRORY
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ING JOE HEMM
YTH BENNEDICT BL
DAVID B IS
ROSA M I
JOE TOD D
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With many th an
Senior IllustrationUWE Le urer Gary Embuct ry fo
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Flip the page to fin some of local d out what th makers think eatreabout the Bard.
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JACK WILLIS february 2012 // 19
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Where there's aWill z
Theatre Royal Bath’s splendidly irreverent Shakespeare Unplugged festival returns this month, promising three weeks of off-kilter riffs on the Bard and his themes. Steve Wright rips up the text.
t some point over the past five centuries, someone decided it was OK to mess around with Shakespeare’s texts in a way that we would never with, say, a Pinter or even a Sheridan. With those playwrights, we would simply take the play as it is – we wouldn’t mess around with it. Whereas with Shakespeare… perhaps his work is so universal that we all feel as if we own it, so what’s wrong with doing whatever you like with it?” The speaker is Kate Cross, director of the egg theatre in Bath – and, for our purposes here, of its brilliant annual smorgasbord of Bardolatry, Shakespeare Unplugged. The latter returns this month for its third and biggest-yet incarnation: three weeks of mindbendingly eclectic performance all inspired, however tenuously, by Will’s works. So you’ll find, among others, a circus/multimedia show inspired by the tortured states of mind of Macbeth and his Lady; an evening of musical comedy with “the world’s first Shakespeare tribute band”; an urban dance ‘Richard III’; and a four-episode soap omnibus, ‘Machamlear’, interweaving Will’s three great tragedies into a modern East End setting. Eclecticism, in short, is the watchword at Shakespeare Unplugged 2012. Do what you
will with Shakespeare’s themes, character and language, is the invitation to its writers and performers: just create something dramatic and captivating and in some way, y’know, Shakespearean. “It’s all about each person’s sensibilities, so I wouldn’t draw the
“We like to encourage artists to be as irreverent as possible.” kate cross, shakespeare Unplugged line anywhere,” Kate reflects. “If artists are inspired by the brief and are passionate about what they are doing, their piece – circus, soap opera, folk songs – will mean something to them and therefore hopefully to audiences. The rest is down to taste.”
One unifying thread to this year’s Unplugged is the domination of local talent – from burgeoning Bristol/Bath theatre companies New Old Friends, Hammerpuzzle and RoughHouse, via talented writers, directors and choreographers (Lee Lyford, Hattie Naylor, Chris Harris) onto homegrown strands like the egg’s YPT company and the Engage strand from its parent Theatre Royal Bath. “Some of Unplugged’s most exciting nights have been about local artists and young people examining Shakespeare and finding completely different things from what, say, I might find,” says Kate. “That creativity and freedom is very exciting. “It’s a celebration of Shakespeare’s vast canon of work, but what gives Unplugged its character is the fact that it’s coming out of small spaces at the Theatre Royal. It’s not about what you might see at the National Theatre, RSC or Donmar, but what happens when creative visionary artists get hold of a text and have fun with it. We like to encourage artists to be as irreverent as possible. Take whatever you find interesting, captivating about a given play, scene or character, and reinterpret it in a way that feels right to you.” SHAKESPEARE UNPLUGGED TAKES PLACE AT THE EGG AND OTHER VENUES ACROSS CENTRAL BATH FROM SAT 11 FEB-SUN 4 MAR. FFI: WWW. THEATREROYAL.ORG.UK
Shakespeare Unplugged: a full frontal Bardfest featuring (l-r): Cirque Bijou's 'The Judgment of Macbeth', Fine Chisel's musical 'Midnight at the Boar's Head' & Hammerpuzzle's 'The Tempest'
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Shakespeare, then. Peerless chronicler of our changing moods, emotions and misdeeds – or an old set of texts in need of a makeover? Read on as some of Bristol, Bath and Shakespeare Unplugged’s key theatre makers give us their take on The Bard
actors adopt a ‘Shakespearean’ voice or a particular way of moving or standing or looking. And anyone who does an all-male production because ‘that’s how they did it then’ needs their head examining. “I’ve been lucky because, with the seven of his plays I’ve worked on as a writer and director, I have had licence to be free with the text. My focus is on storytelling and character – anything that gets in the way of that gets removed. Shakespeare’s language is important but it is not sacrosanct.” FFI: WWW.TIMCROUCHTHEATRE.CO.UK
A performer who began his career in Bristol, Tim is now the much-lauded creator and performer of brilliant Shakespeare spin-offs such as ‘I, Peaseblossom’, ‘I, Banquo’ and ‘I, Malvolio’. Later this year he will direct a young people’s ‘King Lear’ for the Royal Shakespeare Company. “Contemporary culture needs a core of historical material – myths, narrative archetypes – against which it can test itself. It can’t just cut itself away from the past and try to re-invent itself from scratch. This is Shakespeare’s great strength: his work is a yardstick against which contemporary culture can measure itself. We have to keep approaching it to measure our current cultural health. “His characters and stories also influence how we think about ourselves as humans. They are, however subtly, hardwired into how we see ourselves, how we talk about our condition. In terms of our humanistic understanding, Shakespeare is as influential as the Bible. “But we mustn’t approach his plays as archaeological digs. Theatre should not be concerned with how we lived then but how we live now. We are free to approach Shakespeare however we want – to cut, rearrange, modernise. It annoys me when
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It’s as much about the man as his work, and about language and the universality of Shakespeare’s themes. Shakespeare was a normal bloke: wife, kids, bills, mates. The play shows us a bunch of people in the pub having the same debates about theatre that we have today. Think [Marx Brothers classic] ‘Duck Soup’ meets the old men from 'The Muppets'… “Shakespeare showed with great sympathy what it is to be human. His characters are believable, warts and all, and the situations they find themselves in – sometimes totally unbelievable – keep us wanting the best for the good guys and justice for the bad ’uns.”
Bristol playwright, author of ‘Tiger Country’, ‘Pavement’ and ‘The Biting Point’ among others.
“I was raised in Stratford-upon-Avon, so I have some very big issues of my own with Shakespeare. Being a teenager in a town held in a half nelson by coachloads of tourists, a MacDonald’s with stained-glass windows of the Bard and a huge theatre seemingly slurping up all the energy around it, does not make you yearn to spend three hours watching a king losing his grip on reality. Mechanically studying ‘Hamlet’, line by sodding line, for six
Bath playwright Gill Kirk has written ‘It’s All One’, a “light-hearted demystification of Shakespeare’s language”, for Shakespeare Unplugged. “Shakespeare would weep if he saw the way we run scared from his language. He wrote for everyone, from the highest to the lowest, at a time when hardly anyone could read. Even Elizabethans wouldn’t have understood everything he wrote – so many made up or borrowed words. But that didn’t stop people enjoying what they saw on stage! This play helps to break down that language barrier.
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months during A-levels did not further endear him to me. “But all things come to pass and at the age of 32 (!) I saw my first Shakespeare play. It was Cheek by Jowl’s ‘Twelfth Night’ – with an all-male cast, featuring a young and gorgeous Adrian Lester. It was a revelation. “I am still not Will’s greatest fan (more lost twins, anyone?) – or maybe I’m not a fan of the unquestioning worship of him (an academic once confided that “maybe ‘Pericles’ isn’t a very good play”. The horror!) But I’ve had my interest re-awakened by companies who breathe new energy into his plays. And he did write “Finger of birth-strangled babe ditch-deliver’d by a drab” – my all-time number one line.” FFI: THEATREBRISTOL.NET/SHARON-CLARK
Shane Morgan & Ben Crystal Shane is director of Bristol’s Roughhouse Theatre, who make two Unplugged appearances, including ‘Venus and Adonis’. A collaboration with actor and ‘Shakespeare on Toast’ author Ben Crystal (pictured above), it’s a dramatic rendering of Shakespeare’s poem about a goddess’s lusty seduction of a beautiful (but indifferent) young man. Notes Wikipedia: “The poem contains what may be Shakespeare’s most graphic depiction of sexual excitement.”
Tim Atack Bristol writer, performer and experimenter with sound and theatre, whose pre-Xmas sound and action piece ‘The Morpeth Carol’ drew fulsome praise. “My favourite versions of Shakespeare’s plays tend to be cinematic, like ‘Throne Of Blood’ and ‘Ran’ [Akira Kurosawa films based respectively on ‘Macbeth’ and ‘King Lear’]. Unfortunately most Shakespeare I see on stage is dead from the neck up and the waist down. It’s just actors shouting in long shot. “It baffles me that these productions get glowing reviews, where the criteria often seem to be: ‘a good, accurate reading of the play’. The results are measured by what the company did with Shakespeare, not what they did with the audience. But I don’t go to the theatre to have something confirmed, I want it to take me somewhere new. “The brilliance of Shakespeare’s language doesn’t let you off the hook as a theatremaker. You’ve got to tell the story in the right way for here and now, otherwise you’re just another museum piece like all the others. So it’s great that Shakespeare Unplugged has a real mix of approaches to these old familiar stories. It’s especially intriguing that the mime Nola Rae is performing (I saw her as a five-year-old when she toured to my school in Brazil) and there’s something difficult and wonderful about the idea of a wordless ‘Hamlet’.” FFI: WWW.TIMATACK.CO.UK
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Tell us about ‘Venus and Adonis’. Shane: It’s playful, it’s sexy, it’s funny. Venus’s passion for the boy blinds her to all else. It’s the beginning of a relationship and the end of the relationship all rolled into one neat and beautiful tale. All the text we present is Shakespeare’s own, but Ben’s adaptation has a very contemporary edge, as well as nods to Greek chorus. Just what is it that keeps Shakespeare fresh and relevant after 400 years? S: His language is physical, dynamic, and it packs a punch. More important, though, are the truths Shakespeare tells. While we may never, ourselves, have fought wild boar, murdered a monarch or usurped a crown, we have certainly felt ambitious, lustful, playful and all the emotions he so truthfully and poetically describes. Ben: Shakespeare’s writing is a beautifully ornate frame, but within that frame is a plain canvas. Following his clues, you can paint whatever character you like – and it’s you holding the brush. Each one of us would give a completely different Hamlet, Macbeth, Rosalind or Kate. To play Shakespeare well, you must respect the writing – but also bring your own life experience to that writing. His plays need discipline, blood, sweat and tears. And a certain amount of irreverence.
Is it necessary to update Shakespeare’s settings for modern audiences? B: It’s more important to convey an understanding of the context they were set in, and to appreciate that these plays were written in a very different cultural, political world. For example, Hamlet doesn’t become king when his father dies (read: is murdered) because medieval Denmark had an elective system for the throne, and presumably Claudius pulled together a very good and quick campaign while Hamlet was away in school. ‘Macbeth’, meanwhile, was written in the middle of the European witch craze, just after the attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament and the recently installed King James of Scotland. FFI: WWW.ROUGHHOUSETHEATRE.COM AND WWW.SHAKESPEAREONTOAST.COM
Gerard Logan RSC veteran Gerard Logan (below) is performing his one-man rendition of Shakespeare’s poem ‘The Rape of Lucrece’ – about a brutal sexual assault by a Roman prince and its effects upon both victim and perpetrator. “Like ballet, Shakespeare is not naturalistic nor everyday, and never will be. You don’t see people doing ballet steps down the street, and yet audiences pay to see people move in this strange way that does not resemble human behaviour – yet has more to do with the crux of being a human being than anything they see around them. Similarly, Shakespeare’s plays don’t resemble everyday life – and didn’t in Shakespeare’s time, nor did people go round talking like that – and yet somehow have got more to do with the truth of being a human being than any of the artifice you see around you every day. “Shakespeare is verbal ballet, and you’re barking up the wrong tree if you try and make it naturalistic and everyday. But, because the writing is so outstanding, what will happen if you do justice to the text is that it will be accessible to people even in ways that they do not understand. Just as if I flick a switch the lights go on, without my understanding all the mechanics.” FFI: WWW.GERARDLOGAN.CO.UK
What are the key dos and don’ts when adapting Shakespeare? S: Theatre-makers fear cutting Shakespeare. But some things that may have been hilarious 400 years ago drop like a lead balloon today. One of my favourite days in the process is day one with the script, pencil and ruler. To quote Sid James, “Eat, drink, be merry. Tomorrow we snuff it.”
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Clockwise from bottom: Harptree Court, The Gatehouse, Asphodel Cottage, The Post House, Long Barrow Windmill, North Barn, Montpelier Chapter and the Hideaway Hut On opposite page (from top-bottom): Inside the Post House (two pics) and Sherbourne Forge
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Starry-eyed newlywed Toby Sawday, MD of local travel experts and book publishing powerhouse, Sawday’s, picks 10 romantic retreats for the love-struck.
always love escaping the cloying madness of an urban Valentine’s. The bizarre event is made all the odder by being pressed cheeked by jowl with other selfconsciously romantic, candlelit couples in one of Bristol’s [overpriced – Ed.] eateries. No. What could be more genuinely romantic than beating a retreat from it all to spend a long weekend far from a TV but with every conceivable treat a couple needs, in a bonneted cottage in Gloucestershire? Or holing up in a converted windmill overlooking Dartmoor, where there’s a bath with one heck of a view? From a studio overhanging the River Dart to a spanking townhouse hotel via a Cornish shepherd’s hut, here are some of my favourite places to bag you some serious brownie points.
Number 1 Sherborne, Cheltenham ♥ This is sanctuary in a quiet corner of the Cotswolds: your own restored cottage across the garden from the owner’s 17th-century house and overlooking Sherborne Brook. You’ve got a big tub for long soaks, comfy sofas for relaxing evenings and a delicious organic breakfast is delivered to your door each morning. Stay put and just enjoy each other’s company or head off for wintry walks in the surrounding countryside. Cost: From £98 per night based on two sharing, includes breakfast – www. sawdays.co.uk
THE POST HOUSE AND THE OLD BAKERY COTTAGE
Bath Way, Chewton Mendip, nr Wells ♥ Four centuries old and listed, this was once Chewton Mendip’s post office and is now a delightful rural retreat with a French farmhouse feel. There’s a new luxury suite with an extra big bed and roll-top bath if you want a treat, or for extra privacy, you can hole up in your own gorgeous cottage. Cost: From £90 per night for bed & breakfast in the Post House and from £100 per night in the Old Bakery Cottage, based on two sharing – www.sawdays.co.uk
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Tarlton, Cirencester, Gloucestershire ♥ This Hobbity-looking shepherd’s cottage is hugely romantic. There’s a stone fireplace and woodburner to warm you, no TV to blight conversation and a cosy kitchen packed with vintage finds. Up the spiral staircase sits a claw-foot bath and fluffy towels with delicious toiletries. A huge chandelier hangs from the rafters to add to the mood plus Valentine’s visitors are treated to a bottle of bubbly. Cost: From £394 for a two-night stay, based on two sharing – www.sawdays.co.uk/self-catering
Cornworthy, Totnes, Devon ♥ What could be more romantic than waking up bathed in light to the sound of the river lapping below? This is one of Alastair [Sawday]’s favourite places and the perfect escape for a couple wanting to reignite the romance. Paint, sketch, read, walk or lie in bed all day and gaze at the Dart. At low tide you can pick your way along the foreshore to the restaurant at Tuckenhay. Cost: From £450 for a week, based on two sharing – www.sawdays.co.uk/self-catering
THE MONTPELIER CHAPTER
Bayshill Rd, Montpellier, Cheltenham, GL50 3AS ♥ This hotel is seriously cool, stylish and full of new technology. Spend a chic Valentine’s break ordering off the iPad wine list, enjoying a cappuccino from a Nespresso coffee machine or raiding your complimentary mini bar. There’s a fabulous restaurant on site if you don’t want to venture out or an electric car to whizz you around town if you do. Cost: From £140 per night based on two sharing, includes breakfast – www.sawdays. co.uk
The Rib House, St Andrews St, Wells, Somerset ♥ A delightfully rustic little hideaway with a sweet kitchen, whitewashed walls, rough beams and warped wooden doors. It’s close enough to the cathedral to hear the choir – and just in case an impromptu wedding is on the cards! If you’re staying on 14 February, the owners hold a Valentine’s party in the medieval hall with poetry readings and songs on the theme of love. Cost: From £240 for a three-night stay, based on two sharing – www.sawdays.co.uk/selfcatering
LONG BARROW WINDMILL
Moles Lane, North Whilborough, Devon ♥ You can see for almost 20 miles across Dartmoor and to the South Hams from the top of this beautifully renovated windmill. Supremely romantic on a stormy winter’s night and equally as lovely on a crisp sunny day, this comfortable yet quirky resting place offers perfect peace in the Devon countryside – definitely one to impress. Cost: From £300 for a three-night weekend break, based on two sharing – www.sawdays. co.uk/self-catering
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Clockwise from bottom: The Piggeries, Long Barrow Windmill, Asphodel Cottage (two pics), North Barn (two pics), Montpelier Chapter (two pics) and the Piggeries again
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Pictured right (three pics): The glorious rural retreat that is Harptree Court; left and below: The Hideaway Hut; bottom: The Gatehouse
THE HIDEAWAY HUT
Treworgey Farm, Looe, Cornwall ♥ You could happily while away a week without leaving this quaint little love-hut in its own corner of the farm. A to-thedoor meal service will provide delicious fare – including Cornish cream teas – and therapists will come to your hut to carry out an array of lovely-sounding treatments. If you do wish to venture outside, there’s a riding school on site and walks in abundance. Cost: From £66 per night, based on two sharing – www.canopyandstars.co.uk
Moynes Court, Mathern, Chepstow, Monmouthshire ♥ You can sense history in the air at this remarkable listed gatehouse. Views stretch to the Wye Valley and your bed lies ethereally in the eaves up a steep spiral staircase with a grab rail and rope. On a dark night hide behind the thick curtains, close the world out and snuggle down by the fire, or for a treat head to the Michelinstarred Crown at Whitebrook. Cost: From £100 per night for a three-night break, based on two sharing – www.sawdays. co.uk/self-catering
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East Harptree, nr Bristol, Somerset ♥ It’s less than half an hour from the thrum and fizz of bustling Bristol, but Harptree Court, languishing in the serene walkers’ (and fishers’) paradise, Chew Valley, feels like another world away. With four spacious, individually styled, chocolate-box bedrooms, as well as a recently added, apparently very successful treehouse (which is booked up for spring already) and a vast yurt available during the year’s warmest six months, there’s more than a little dash of quirk amongst the Georgian rural grandeur. The house – which boasts its own tennis court, croquet lawn and idyllic, easily navigable grounds – combines both comfort and seclusion. You’re free to roam through lime tree groves and idly drift towards to a lakeside hideout, or you can unwind inside, where there are roll-top baths, roaring fires, and, most triumphantly, afternoon tea and moreish lemon drizzle cake is served (the recipe’s online – trust us, you’ll be looking it up). These are just a handful of the little touches that make you feel you’re far more than just another customer here, and despite the splendour, Harptree Court is very much a home from home; current owners Charles and Linda live there too and are always on hand to dispatch invaluable local knowledge, or provide umbrellas, maps, walking boots and torches for after-dark adventurists. You’re on first-name terms from the outset. Being a B&B, there are no evening meals provided, but breakfast is a feast in itself, combining impeccably locallysourced credentials (the eggs are laid mere metres away, the honey’s fresh from the Harptree apiary and the yoghurt
arrives from the famous Yeo Valley up the road) without scrimping on taste and quality (our salmon, eggs, cereal and yoghurt breakfast negates the need for any kind of lunch during our stay). When darkness descends, there are plenty of options for an evening gambol, and Harptree, Chew Magna and Litton all boast some fine pubs, including the notoriously good (and Michelin-starred) Pony and Trap in Chew, which takes homely gastropub fare to the next level and beyond. Back home, a huge chaise longue/ armchair hyrid provides a perfect hideyhole to curl up with a midnight movie, cup of Belgian hot chocolate in hand, before piling into our 6ft wide, cushion-strewn monster bed for some hardly well-earned, but nonetheless welcome canyon-deep sleep. (Joe Spurgeon) Cost: From £95 per night based on two sharing, includes breakfast – www.sawdays. co.uk Treehouse from £175 per night, based on two sharing – www.canopyandstars.co.uk WITH MANY THANKS TO THE POUTINGLY GORGEOUS EMILY ENRIGHT AND THE DIEHARD ROMANTIC TOBY SAWDAY FOR THEIR HELP WITH THIS FEATURE. FOR INFORMATION ON ANY BREAK AT SAWDAY’S, SEE WWW.SAWDAYS. CO.UK
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Ahead of his new solo tour stop-off in the Colston Hall, the curly-topped one out of ‘The Thick of It’, ‘In the Loop’, ‘Mock the Week’ and ‘Skins’ shares a few words with Mike White.
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Comedy is about jokes; it’s not about changing the world. The point of satire is to be general – you need to be critical of everyone and everything if you’re going to be a satirist, and you don’t need to provide solutions. It’s a very irresponsible position, but it’s quite an important one, or certainly has been an important one. The great satire boom took place about 50 years ago, with the ‘Beyond the Fringe’ and ‘That Was The Week That Was’ and all that stuff we know from countless BBC4 documentaries. Back then, it was genuinely shocking to see Harold Macmillan mocked on stage. Of course, if we watch it back now, it seems incredibly gentle, but at the time it was really shocking, and that was the force of the satire. It wasn’t the specific ideas about Macmillan that Peter Cook was putting across that were shocking, so much as the fact that he was doing it in the first place. I was born 10 years after that, and for my whole life, and the sentient life of most of my audience, satire’s just been there. We’re very used to the idea of mocking our leaders. So saying so-and-so is sh*t or John Prescott is fat or whatever isn’t good enough really. One response to that is to change your target. Rather than targeting particular politicians (which I still do, of course) I think it’s a good idea to target us, the public. Recently Andy Zaltzman, John Oliver and I made a show called ‘The Department’ for Radio 4 and one of the things we wanted to do there was not to mock the government particularly, but the way that we respond to issues like crime or terror and so on, and how that’s a problem. Or you just have to be cleverer. One clever thing about ‘The Thick of It’ is that it’s about the humanity – or the human-ness at least – of political figures. It’s about their ordinariness. Rather than turning them into monsters, it says that they’re just flailing incompetents. It’s about changing your angle of attack. I’ve spent a fair bit of time in Bristol with ‘Skins’ – mostly hidden in a studio in Fishponds, unfortunately. When my wife and I last moved house, I tried to persuade her that Bristol would be a good place for us to move to. She wasn’t having it, but I’m a big fan of Bristol. I think it’s one of Britain’s most underrated places. I was in a pub by Queen Square one night trying to learn some scripts for ‘Skins’, and when I got home I found a Tweet saying ‘Just sat next to @ MrChrisAddison in the pub. He was waving his arms about and mouthing to himself a lot.’ I had no idea that I’d been doing that, but evidently I was sitting in a pub looking like an absolute lunatic. I quickly realised you can’t do that kind of thing in public. The title of the new tour is ‘The Time is Now, Again’. It has no relevance whatsoever to anything. The reason that those sorts of titles get invented is because someone asks you what you’re going to call the show months before you’ve even written it, so you have to come up with something vague, generic and hopefully eye-catching. On the day that that happened, the phrase ‘The time is now, again’ just popped into my head and really made me laugh. So that’s why it’s called that, and pretty much all standup comedians’ tours are called whatever they’re called for the exact same reason. Mind you, the time is always now, again, isn’t it? That’s what made me laugh about the phrase – I love that this huge clarion call to arms of ‘The Time
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Is Now’ can be completely undermined by one tiny word. Everything just falls apart when you add ‘again’. You’re nailing jelly to the ceiling trying to explain why I find that funny, but it really makes me laugh in the way that – another thing I like does: taking film straplines and adding one word to them, and thus rendering them rubbish. ‘In space, no one can hear you scream’ right? That’s a famous strapline from ‘Alien’. But if you put ‘loudly’ on the end of that, it suddenly becomes rubbish, right? Or Superman: ‘You’ll believe a man can fly’ but if you put ‘upwards’ at the end of that sentence, it becomes absolute sh*t. And that kind of thing really appeals to me. And the thing is, you can say ‘the time is now, again’ at any time, and always appear prescient, because that’s the way the world goes, it’s all cycles. What’s the show about? It’s not really about anything. I guess there are bits that all link together and what have you, but it’s not about a thing particularly. I used to do themed shows, then I had an enforced break from stand-up because other things were happening, and when I came back I found I wanted to make it more straight stand-up, more personal. And it worked really nicely. So it’s more of that, and if it’s about anything it’s about… Oh, what is it about? It’s about my inability to think for myself. That’s the only thing you can take from it. There’ll be a little bit of politics in there, but my stuff to date’s not been as political as some people seem to think. ‘The Thick of It’ is actually a work-place sitcom that just happens to take place in politics. It’s just a lot of buggering about really – there aren’t really that many satirical points made, really. It’s just the setting that makes it look like that. And ‘Mock The Week’ is basically just a lot of mucking about. Which pretty much describes my show. I never, ever read my own reviews. Not for at least a decade, anyway. Never Google yourself, never read your own reviews. More than 10 years ago Sean Lock said that to me: “Never read your reviews. And don’t just not read your own reviews, don’t read anyone else’s reviews either.” Because either they like things that you hate, or they hate things you like, and that’ll drive you mental. So every year in Edinburgh I used to tell my front-ofhouse staff and my PR team and everybody else that I didn’t want to know when any reviewers were in, and I didn’t want to know when any reviews came out. Never tell me about it. I haven’t seen a review for years. It’s great. And while we’re at it, never read the comments section of anything on the internet. I think the internet will eventually take its own life. It’s just the repository of all human bile, and mostly you’ll find that human bile in the comment sections, particularly of the Daily Mail, and, let us not pull punches, The Guardian. In any review of anything you ever read, it could be a film, album, anything, most of them say “I wish they’d done this, or I wish they’d done that”, and I want to say well, they didn’t, and that was their artistic decision, so you have to take it on their own terms, instead of measuring it against the kind of thing you think you’d like. If all you want is the kind of thing you’d like, f*cking do it yourself! CHRIS ADDISON BRINGS ‘THE TIME IS NOW, AGAIN’ TO THE COLSTON HALL, BRISTOL ON FRI 10 FEB. FFI: WWW. COLSTONHALL.ORG
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2050 vision What’s Bristol going to be like in 40 years’ time? And what should we do now to make sure the city is thriving then? A group of business leaders who’ve dubbed themselves The Initiative have just published their ideas. Eugene Byrne reports.
ust before Christmas, a group of Bristol business leaders launched a vision for how the city might look in 40 years’ time. Less a blueprint for the future, and more what they hope will be the start of a public and civic debate, the central plank of the Bristol 2050 project was the publication of a book called ~ ‘High in Hope’. This is thought to be the first of its kind in Europe, and is modelled on a similar project undertaken by business leaders and architects in Chicago at the start of the 20th century. The 1909 ‘Plan of Chicago’ promoted a vision of the city as “the Paris of the Prairies”. Led by local business umbrella group Business West, the book has been produced by a group calling itself The Initiative, which is made up of local business leaders and chambers of commerce from Bristol and surrounding towns. Bristol 2050's stated aim is to discard "the very English penchant for the status quo" and "to test the boundaries, think boldly and keep growth concerns at the absolute forefront of future policy thinking". The book contains several suggestions, including, among others: // An extensive footpath and cycle network along the shore of the Severn Estuary, opening up what is currently a difficult-to-access area for recreation, nature conservation and education and create a prime bird-watching centre. // Massive remodelling of the Cumberland Basin area to get rid of the current “spaghetti junction” of roads to enhance existing historic buildings and make room for new homes, offices and possibly a major cultural venue. // An Avon Barrage close to the M5 bridge at Avonmouth to create a “linear water park” (see separate panel). // An integrated public transport system serving
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the whole of the Greater Bristol area, with emphasis on discouraging car use. One of the key aspects of Bristol 2050 is the assumption that Bristol will continue to be very prosperous relative to much of the rest of the country, and indeed Europe. While Bristol historically declined in importance as an English city during the industrial revolution, it has been growing rapidly in recent decades due to a combination of factors. Most important among these has been a high concentration of highearning industries based around technology, aerospace, media, new media and medicine. These are often working profitably with various departments from Bristol and Bath’s four universities. The Bristol 2050 plan anticipates that the city will need to develop around 6,000 hectares of land to accommodate the jobs and homes that will be required. This is the equivalent of around half the area of the existing city. This is based on the assumption that the population of Greater Bristol will grow by half a million by 2050, mostly due to migration. For these people, an additional 200,000 homes will be needed. The author of ‘High in Hope’ is John Savage, a businessman and prominent member of the Society of Merchant Venturers. Savage has been an extremely influential figure locally for almost two decades, as head of various business bodies and public/private partnerships. He’s been directly or indirectly involved in all manner of projects in Bristol, from At-Bristol and the regeneration of Harbourside through to Cabot Circus. He said: “The Bristol region is already attractive to people and businesses but there is uncertainty about where it is going and why; there is no longer-term vision, no overall leadership, no sense of a shared direction. By ensuring that the business voice is heard and championing Bristol as the place to do business and to live, we believe that we can achieve a tangible and improving return on public investment, with a significant increase in the gross domestic product of the city-region.” Bristol 2050 comes at a time of potentially
Surf’s up! Meanwhile, in a completely separate development, plans have been unveiled for an inland surfing facility next to the Avon Gorge. Wavegarden UK is a £5m leisure facility on a 450-metre man-made lake which the developers promise will feature 1.6m high waves. Experienced surfers will be able to ride for up to 55 seconds, while beginners can learn in a safe environment. The facility would also include familyfriendly gardens and nature study facilities. One of the sites the firm is looking at is the 13-acre former disused sports field next to the Portway. Plans some years ago to create a number of five-a-side football pitches at the site came to nothing, partly in the face of objections from local residents. Wavegarden is the idea of two friends, Nick Hounsfield (an osteopath) and Tobin Coles (a corporate marketing director), who are also keen surfers. Another business partner is Chris Hines, founder of Surfers against Sewage and former director of sustainability at the Eden Project. The firm is now seeking public views before submitting its planning application. If successful, it hopes to start work this year. Hounsfield said: “Wavegarden is ambitious but achievable. It will be a fantastic place, close to Bristol city centre, that everyone can enjoy – all ages, all backgrounds and all abilities. It will be a space to relax and rehabilitate as well as a place to surf, play and have fun. We instinctively know that being in or around water is good for people and that is something we want to share.” FFI: SEE WWW. WAVEGARDEN.ME.UK
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very significant changes locally. The Coalition government is talking about devolving more powers to cities, including greater control of transport and locally raised taxes. Later this year Bristolians will be voting on whether or not the city should have a directly elected mayor with executive powers. Savage and his team, however, think that this is no solution. Speaking at the launch of ‘High in Hope’, Savage said: “The mayor debate is a complete diversion. There’s no point in being the mayor of Bristol, there’s no room for him or her to do anything ...
“We need to get central government to recognise the place as it is so that it can be holistically managed.” John Savage I don’t think we should fixate on mayors because there’s no point in being mayor for the existing Bristol boundary; it’s too tight.” Instead the document calls for more focus on the Bristol “city-region”. Bristol’s existing boundaries do not take account of the realities on the ground, which are that Bristol physically and economically extends far out into areas run by neighbouring local authorities. Indeed, by 2050 it is likely that Bristol and Bath will be fused together in a single conurbation. One of the most contentious aspects of the plan will almost certainly be its demands for a transport authority with powers over the whole conurbation and beyond. Even more controversial is its suggestion that there should be an elected mayor responsible for the entire region. In effect greatly reducing the powers of the four existing councils, or abolishing them altogether.
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While this makes perfect sense from a Bristol viewpoint, it will cause howls of protest among neighbouring authorities, particularly North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, who jealously guard their powers but who in recent years have been accused of holding Bristol back because of their own narrow interests, particularly in transport planning. “The old mid-19th century boundary for Bristol is hopeless,” said Savage. “We need to get central government to recognise the place as it is so that it can be holistically managed.” Aside from transport, the biggest challenge facing the city-region in the coming years will be the provision of housing, and this is certain to be a cause of friction with Bristol’s neighbours. Savage said: “I just ask them to look at the map of the territory and get them to extract Bristol from it. They should then ask themselves what are they without Bristol? Frankly they don’t have to become one unitary authority, they just have to pretend to be one. They can dice up the responsibilities effectively, but whilst they defend their little patches and turn steadfastly against the need for housing, they’re like Canute, aren’t they? People have got to be housed, and the territory on which they have to be housed is not in Bristol, there just is not enough space. But they could join in, couldn’t they? Instead of being four warring members of the family ... “ Phil Smith, managing director of Business West, said that the ‘High In Hope’ book was to get conversations started: “The primary reason for publishing the 2050 vision now is to start a debate, raise aspirations and illustrate the benefits of long-term strategic thinking. We have involved the wider business community from the start of this project, and for it to be a success there needs to be an ongoing debate and a continual flow of new ideas. To facilitate this we’ve set up project groups and are encouraging the wider business community to participate and take ideas forward.” FFI: SEE WWW.BRISTOL2050.CO.UK
Back in Victorian times, when Bristol’s economy still revolved mainly around its port, there was a huge ongoing debate about how to save the city economically. Bristol was losing business to other ports, one of the main reasons being that its harbour was in the middle of the city. To get in or out, ships had to travel along the long and winding river Avon at high tide. As the newfangled metalhulled steamships grew ever larger, there was an increasing danger they’d get stuck in the river on one of the bendy bits. Brunel’s ss Great Britain, for instance, may have been built in Bristol, but getting her out into the Bristol Channel had been so hazardous that she never sailed back to Bristol again. The obvious solution was to build a new port on the Bristol Channel coast, which of course is what happened in the end and how we got Avonmouth. A rival firm also built another dock at Portishead. But for a long time, the city fathers considered another option – to turn the whole Avon from the city centre to the Bristol Channel into one enormous floating harbour. They’d build a dam at Avonmouth, bung up the river so it was permanently filled with water, and ships could come in and out through a system of locks. The scheme was known as “dockisation”. It seemed simple enough on paper, but the technical and drainage challenges, and thus the potential costs, were immense. The idea was finally abandoned after several decades of engineers’ reports and civic dithering. Now, though, the plan is back on the table. This time round, the Bristol 2050 document is not proposing dockisation as a way of improving the city’s port business. Instead, the idea is to build a barrage near the M5 bridge at Avonmouth. This would carry a road, generate electricity, and reduce risk of flooding. What we’d also end up with, from the centre to the sea, would be a huge “linear water park”, a facility for boating, fishing and other leisure facilities. The Portway could be closed to traffic, either permanently or for some of the time, increasing the area’s attractiveness. Dockisation was too bold and expensive even for the Victorians, to whom anything seemed possible. Modern engineering techniques could now make it a reality, and – we assume! – at a much lower cost.
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Newshound GoING UP
THE OFFICIAL HISTORY OF LAST MONTH...(and some other stuff) // Banana nabs runaway aerial thief
don’t think the bloke could believe it when he realised who was chasing him. He looked pretty surprised and he didn’t really look like he wanted to argue with me. “I was just doing my job really, I just heard the alarm go off and ran out of the store in pursuit. Everyone at work found it hilarious – I guess I am the real-life Bananaman. I think it will definitely help towards my training for the force.” Checkout worker Luke Summerhayes, 21, was talking to reporters after pursuing and apprehending a suspected shoplifter while dressed as a giant banana. Mr Summerhayes was wearing the 6ft 7inch outfit as part of a charity fundraising day at the Wells branch of Tesco just before Christmas. He is also a police special constable. He was helping shoppers pack their bags when alerted by the security alarm. “I heard the alarm go off and had just seen this guy walking out. I ran
// FACT BITES // BRISTOL’S ICE RINK IS DUE TO CLOSE IN OCTOBER
Luke Summerhayes: a top banana
out of the store and across the car park after him and caught him up. He denied it but didn’t argue when I asked him to come back to the store. He went through the security system and it went off again, so he was taken out the back of the store.” The alleged stolen item, a TV aerial, was recovered, and a 22-year-old man from Wells was due to appear
When the present rink opened. It was originally called Silver Blades, and was part of the giant Mecca leisure development in Frogmore Street. It was opened by the Lord Mayor, assisted, according to the local papers, by two “pretty girls” to ensure His Worship didn’t fall on his arse.
Famous skater (pictured) and Olympic champ. He started out at Bristol rink, y'know.
He’s the businessman who operates the rink. He also owns a load of green belt land in Stockwood and wants to build a load of houses on it. He’s talking about building a £10m ice rink there, presumably to sweeten the deal.
Student accommodation firm who actually own the rink site. Nike’s lease expires in January 2013 and Unite want to build student flats there instead.
Bristol Pitbulls 81 Name of ice hockey team based at the rink.
Nothing to do with trainers.
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at South Somerset magistrates in relation to the incident. Since the suspect could not give him the slip (sorry), Mr Summerhayes is hoping that one of the fruits (geddit?!) of his labours will eventually be an offer from the police so’s he can become a full-time “peeler” (I’ll get me coat).
Age of what seems to be the rink’s oldest regular. The Evening Post interviewed Joyce Simmons, who’s been going there since she was 49.
“I love ice skating and think it is a brilliant form of exercise – I’m eight stone with not an ounce of fat on me,” she said.
Nearest other ice rink.
Our made-up estimate of the number of romances which began with innocent adolescent first dates at the rink. If you’re not Bristolian, you absolutely need to understand this.
The price of bunting... Three towns in Somerset have announced they’re not buying any official Olympic bunting. Even though the Olympic torch will be travelling through Yeovil, Ilchester and Somerton, the respective local councils have said the bunting costs too much. The bunting, which of course includes the logos of the corporate sponsors, costs about £92 for 20 metres, and there are restrictions on its use. Each town has said that the flags could cost up to £15,000. Somerton and Ilchester will use bunting designed by local schoolchildren. Your fuel gauge... Rising petrol prices, along with rising cost-of-living prices generally have led to a spate of petrol thefts from vehicles across the UK. Since December, more than 20 vans or cars have had their fuel tanks drained, or siphoned in the Greater Bristol area. Particularly worrying is the trend for drilling into tanks to get the precious hydrocarbons, and the E. Post last month featured one garage where two vehicles had leaked fuel over the forecourt when being filled up. Police advise drivers to park vehicles in garages or off-road if possible, and if not, ensure they’re in welllit areas.
Number of signatures on the petition to save the rink last time we looked. Add yours at www.thepetitionsite.com/1/ save-the-ice-rink/
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email firstname.lastname@example.org web www.venue.co.uk
Say what? Hi, Honey, I’m home! Mmmmm! I smell coffee and something else – baking! Excellent! Serve me now! I’ll have a mocha latte and a blueberry muffin please! Certainly, madam. Please take a seat. Really? I was joking. But OK, great. Coffee and muffins it is! Marvellous. You can give me a back-rub as well. I’m sorry, madam, but company policy does not permit intimate physical contact with customers. Here is your coffee and your blueberry muffin. That will be £12 please. Put it on my tab, Jeeves. Ha-ha. Madam does like to have her little joke, I see. That will be £12 please. There is no service charge, but if madam wishes to leave a tip, that is at her own discretion. Twelve quid for this horrible-tasting coffee, and a muffin that’s burnt? OK, enough of the play-acting. I am merely researching and
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setting up my new business venture. I see you’re a simpleton. Please explain how, in the teeth of the worst economic downturn in living memory, you are going to sell cups of instant coffee and lumps of burnt dough for twelve quid a throw. Have you been into a Costa Coffee recently? But their coffee and cakes are nicer than yours! And slightly less expensive. Well, mine will be fine once I’ve practised a bit. And while the coffee comes at a premium price, the refills are free.
Who cares? A couple of people set up a Costa Coffee franchise on the Gloucester Road, despite objections from many locals. The council turned down its planning application, but it went ahead and opened anyway. The franchisees did the same thing on Whiteladies Road. There’s a hearing this month, but for the time being the council can’t order them to stop trading or close them down due to a legal technicality – because they’re not doing enough harm. Your coffee would do plenty of harm. It tastes like dirt. That’s because it was ground this morning.
In that case, I’ll go straight to the refill please. Anyway, I was thinking of opening my coffee shop on College Green, or maybe the Downs.
I think that joke may be grounds for divorce. You’re a fine one to talk. You wake up grumpy every morning.
But the council will never give you planning permission. And the locals will protest.
I don’t wake up Grumpy, I bring him a cup of coffee! (That’s enough old coffee jokes. Ed.)
these parts // You probably walk past it every day... No. 26 The Edward VII Memorial, Queens Rd // One of the finest public sculptures in Bristol represents King Edward VII (r 1901-1910), along with cavorting nymphs, water-squirting fishes, lions and stuff. It was designed by architect Edwin Rickards, sculpted by Henry Poole and built between 1913 and 1917 and cost about £13,500. All this to commemorate a self-indulgent sybarite who had spent most of his adult life waiting for his mother to die. In his later years ‘Bertie’ was so corpulent that he required a specially-constructed chair in order to be serviced by his mistresses. Not that you’d get any of that from the statue, which shows him a lot more lithe, and wearing a bunch of ridiculous flummery (actually the robes of the Order of the Garter). He doesn’t look especially kingly; that’s because George V, his successor, let it be known he would be displeased if Bristol had a statue of his papa on a horse because it might look better than the monument he himself had commissioned for London. George V visited Bristol on 4 July 1913 to open the Royal Agricultural Society Show on Durdham Down, stopping en route to inspect the statue of his dad. As his carriage was coming up Park Street, a suffragette named Mary Richardson dropped a petition demanding votes for women into his lap. The Times reported that police had huge difficulty in saving her from the anger of the mob (particularly the women) who had been outraged at her disrespect for His Majesty. In the end, they had to commandeer a tram to carry her off to Bridewell.
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// The mists of time // It was February 2002 and when we weren’t busy being young and lovely, here’s some of the stuff we were reading in Venue … // Issue 514 of Venue had a special free 16-page short break guide to Amsterdam. More than half of this “guide” was about “coffee shops”, head shops and drugs in general… A Bedminster man was sentenced to 180 hours’ community service after thermal imaging equipment in the Avon & Somerset Police helicopter discovered a cannabis farm hidden in his loft. The farm came to light when the helicopter, involved in an unrelated
34 // february 2012
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The News, Digested
Occupation over... Mobile phone tracking... Council’s ‘camera enforcement car’... Cricketers out?... // As Venue went to press, the Occupy Bristol activists were set to leave College Green. The protestors have been camped out in front of the Council House since the autumn. The land actually belongs to Bristol Cathedral, which took legal action against the campers in January, in conjunction with Bristol City Council. While a group of people protested at the court hearing, the official line from Occupy Bristol is that they were not going to contest the legal action in order to avoid expense to the taxpayer. A statement on the Occupy Bristol website (www. occupybristoluk.org) said that “We continue to have positive discussions with both the Council and Cathedral. We understand both have been working on statements that speak to the political issues Occupy Bristol have raised. We await these statements with interest.” The campers have pledged to clear up the site and return in the coming weeks to re-grass the area.
// Bristol’s Cabot Circus is tracking the movement of customers via their mobile phones. The same technology is used at around 30 other UK shopping centres. Privacy advocates claim this is intrusive, while the retail firms say it’s a vital marketing tool, and that in any event the tracking is completely anonymous. If you don’t want them knowing where you’re going (however anonymously) next time you’re in Cabot Circus, turn your phone off ... // Bristol City Council has unveiled a new ‘camera enforcement car’ to catch out “dangerous and inconsiderate illegal parking” at schools, hospitals and bus stops. The car went into operation on 30 January and will particularly target schools to deter motorists who put children at risk by parking on the zigzag lines. It will move to
// Gloucestershire County Cricket Club has said it is considering leaving Bristol following the council’s rejection of plans to develop the County Ground. The club’s planning application to develop the ground at Nevil Road in Ashley Down was rejected by the council because the plans included a large block of flats which local residents claimed would tower over the area, and the nearby terraced housing. The club is said to be considering a move to Gloucester, where there is said to be an appropriate site at a former industrial site.
pursuit, spotted the unusual amount of heat generated by the growing equipment… Everyone was getting all excited about Friendsreunited (say, whatever happened to Friendsreunited?). Well, not everyone. One columnist wrote: “One evening an old school pal and I went online and found a regional newspaper group had a searchable archive of all its papers’ stories from recent years. We found news of several former classmates. One had been done for domestic violence, another for fraud, another had been declared bankrupt and one of the PE teachers had been sent down for kiddiefiddling. You won’t find anything like that on Friendsreunited.”… Reader’s letter: “I really enjoyed your piece on tribute bands, but felt an obvious opportunity had been missed. How about a tribute Royal
Family? They could chart the whole history, from early success in Germany through to breakups and tragedies (drink, drugs, haemophilia). I’ve even got a name for them. How about the Bootleg Battenburgs?”... Emily Eavis, 22, daughter of Mike of Glastonbury Festival fame, was taking on more responsibilities for the fest, and so Venue interviewed her. Do a lot of old ‘friends’ suddenly get in touch in late May/early June? “Yes, there are a couple of classics who try it on every year from my primary school. Some are a bit more on the ball and start ringing in April.”… Alanis Morissette played the Fleece. “Surely ‘Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie’ didn’t sell that badly? Well, not exactly, but the verbose, self-indulgent and often worryingly tune-free follow-up to her 15-million-shifting ‘Jagged
Little Pill’ did little to cement the Canadian songstress’s reputation as queen of confessional PMS rock. Hence, presumably, this gruelling promotional tour for the new one, ‘Under Rug Swept’. The Fleece’s tiny stage meant we were deprived of the curiously equine gallivanting that has characterised previous Morissette shows, though she managed some spirited hairswinging and jumping up and down during ‘You Learn’. And that voice has lost none of its power, even though she continues to play the harmonica with all the finesse of an asthmatic Bob Dylan.”…
other locations outside of “school run” times and will operate seven days a week. The £36,400 vehicle is fitted with a mobile enforcement camera and an on-board processor using Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR). Evidence gathered will be used to issue parking tickets to offenders.
1/24/2012 4:18:01 PM
february 2012 // 35
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The Jung ones Horror diehards are not going to enjoy David Cronenberg’s stagey psychoanalytic drama ‘A Dangerous Method’. Hell, Robin Askew didn’t like it much. But that wasn’t going to stop him from meeting one of cinema’s more provocative directors.
ou might be forgiven for thinking that ‘A Dangerous Method’ marks a major departure for David Cronenberg, renowned Canadian master of body horror. A dialogueheavy period drama centred on Freud (Viggo Mortensen), Jung (Michael Fassbender) and Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) - the patient who came between them - the film explores the birth pangs of psychoanalysis with nary a grotesque flourish. Perhaps surprisingly, Cronenberg bristles slightly at the suggestion that this is new territory for him. “I sometimes have to remind people that
“I think my early horror films have actually influenced psychoanalysis. Honestly. Apparently, they show those movies at psychoanalytic sessions, and they show them to patients” David Cronenberg 36 // february 2012
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the first film I ever made was called ‘Transfer’ - a seven-minute short about a psychiatrist and his patient,” he objects. “So for me this is kind of business as usual. And, of course, remember that Oliver Reed plays a psychotherapist in my movie ‘The Brood’, which was a long time ago…” It was also a terrifically gory little horror flick about killer mutant babies, which took a somewhat less academically rigorous approach to mental health issues. But let’s not interrupt him, eh? “When I’m making a movie, I don’t really think about my other movies at all. They’re totally irrelevant to me. I really just think about the movie that we’re making. I often think of it as if the movie is telling me what it wants or needs, and I give it that. I don’t
try to impose any preconceived ideas or presumptions on it.” But what about the style of the film? Surely he’d agree it’s very different to that of his previous work? “I think I’m evolving a kind of austerity and simplicity in my style and approach to film-making,” Cronenberg agrees. “But in a way, the style of the film comes to me from what we’re trying to create. We’re trying to replicate an era that’s gone now. I don’t come with the idea that I must put some particular stamp on it that people will recognise. I think that would deform the movie, actually. Even in terms of its visual style, it tells you what it wants.” The era in question is, of course, the turn of the century. And the setting is Jung’s hospital in Zurich and the
Viggo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender take dinner during director David Cronenberg's (pictured above right) latest drama while (clockwise) Vincent Cassel and Keira Knightley add further star power
Viennese clinic where Freud pioneered his ‘talking cure’. Cronenberg stresses how revolutionary Freud’s thinking was at a time of relative stability. “There had been the Austro-Hungarian empire for 700 years. Everybody felt that man was evolving nicely from animal to angel, and that reason and rationality could conquer everything and solve every problem. And then you have Freud coming along and saying: ‘Not so fast. There are things under the surface that you should really pay attention to because they can erupt into tribal violence and barbarity. These things need to be acknowledged or they can destroy you.’ And of course, the First World War vindicated that attitude. In fact it’s hard for us to understand now, because we’ve had so many wars since then. But at the time it was pretty shattering - the idea that a super European civilisation could be destroyed so easily was really shocking to intellectuals of all kinds.” The script is by veteran British screenwriter Christopher Hampton, whose credits include ‘Dangerous Liaison’ and ‘Atonement’. It was adapted from his own 2003 stage play, ‘The Talking Cure’, which was in turn was based on John Kerr’s 1994 book ‘A Most Dangerous Method: The Story of Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein.’ Such a roundabout transition to the screen was not Hampton’s original intention. “This started life as a screenplay that nobody
1/25/2012 2:32:24 PM
For film listings and more reviews visit venue.co.uk/film
wanted to make,” he smiles. “So some 10 years ago, I turned it into a stage play. With the stage play, it was more a question of closing it down rather than opening it up. I was very much guided by David, who had read the original screenplay and the stage play, which was more successful really. David was very comfortable with it. Some directors aren’t very comfortable with scenes that run longer than a page.” Originally, the focus was on Sabina. Only later did Hampton widen his story to give equal weight to Freud and Jung. Some have speculated that his initial difficulty in getting the green light might have been because, even in this modern age, it’s tough to get funding for films centred on female characters. “I have written films with central characters who are women which have been very hard to fund,” he admits, referring presumably to Stephen Frears’ long-gestating ‘Cheri’. “But that’s not why I made the change. The script was originally called ‘Sabina’ and it was commissioned by 20th Century Fox and Julia Roberts’s company. Of course, Sabina is the most fascinating character and it seemed like a good idea to focus the story on her. But with a couple of years’ distance, it became clear that the real central character of the story is Jung, because he is actually at the pivot of all the relationships. But I wish films that have female central characters were not still facing these absurd restrictions.” Hampton jokes that most of his scripts replicate life (“i.e. they start quite cheerfully and end badly”). But the main challenge with ‘A Dangerous Mind’ was in distilling big ideas into a story that’s easy to follow without succumbing to cringe-making biopic cliché. “It’s always very difficult to make things simple. And this material is not easy. I knew quite a bit about Freud before I started. But I knew nothing about Jung. And Jung,
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admirable as he is in so many ways, is not the easiest writer to grapple with. So first of all, the problem was to understand what they were trying to say and then make it accessible without making it foolish. You don’t want to have people saying to each other, ‘I’ve just had an idea about what I might call the collective unconscious’. So writing was a long process.” Cast in that pivotal role of Jung is versatile German-Irish actor Michael Fassbender. It’s not the first time he’s played a real person, having picked up several Best Actor awards for his Bobby Sands in Steve McQueen’s ‘Hunger’. “That’s the fear element - somebody who has a very passionate, loyal and vocal following,” he concedes. “You want to do justice to the character and you want to do justice to David and to Christopher’s script. The main thing for me was to tackle this very eloquent, muscular piece of dialogue. You try to treat it as a piece of music. So I spent a lot of time with the text, trying to find the different rhythms and get the real power of the dialogue. Because we’re dealing with a period in time when discourse, especially in the academic world, is a weapon. If you’re not in charge of it, then you’re going to get destroyed. So that was an element that needed work. I think what’s interesting when you’re dealing with real heavyweight characters like this - revered characters - is that you find out that there are human beings underneath there that have egos and very basic and obvious flaws. To play with those elements is also fun.” Of course, it’s also fun to speculate what Jung would have made of Brandon, Fassbender’s character in McQueen’s sex addiction drama ‘Shame’, which preceded ‘A Dangerous Method’ into cinemas. “The order came ‘A Dangerous Method’, ‘X-Men’ and then ‘Shame’. So I was manipulating metal in
between,” he laughs. “It’s funny because when I do something, I’m sort of in that and it’s a very intense time. Then I discard it pretty quickly. And so when I was doing ‘Shame’, I didn’t even think about the parallels. I might have been doing it subconsciously, but I certainly wasn’t aware of it.” As for Cronenberg’s own interaction with psychoanalysis: “I think my early horror films have actually influenced psychoanalysis,” he laughs. “Honestly. Apparently, they show those movies at psychoanalytic sessions, and they show them to patients.” He shakes his head in disbelief. “I don’t get paid for that! There are artists like Bernardo Bertolucci, who say they apply psychoanalytic methods to film-making. And of course the surrealist Salvador Dali - the idea of dreams and dream interpretation was very important to his approach to art. But for me it’s not that conscious. Any artist growing up in the 20th century is automatically influenced by Freud, his ideas and his understanding of human nature. I really think that artists and psychoanalysts do that same thing. That is to say, you’re presented with an official version of reality, which is the
surface reality, and you say, ‘OK that’s nice as far as it goes but what’s underneath?’ We both dive beneath the surface to see what’s really going on, what’s hidden, what’s not understood. A psychoanalyst does that with his patient and an artist does that with society in general.” ‘A Dangerous Method’ opens on Fri 10 Feb. See review on page 47 and www.venue.co.uk for screening details.
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// THE MONTH AHEAD // The Woman in Black (12A) // (Dir: James Watkins, 95 mins) Daniel Radcliffe gets his first post-Potter leading role in this big-screen version of Susan Hill’s ghost story. Of course, everybody knows the plot by now as there was a very good Nigel Kneale-scripted TV version back in 1989 (mysteriously unavailable on DVD, but eBay will sell you a pirate copy). It was also adapted for the stage and is now the second longestrunning play in the West End (after you-know-what). This new adaptation from the revived Hammer Films is directed by James Watkins, who gave us the very impressive ‘Eden Lake’, and written by Jane (‘Kick-Ass’) Goldman. For the uninitiated, Radcliffe plays lawyer Arthur Kipps, who finds himself professionally obliged to stay at the unspeakably spooky and remote Eel Marsh House, whereupon ghosties begin to manifest themselves.
Star Wars: Episode 1 – the Phantom Menace 3D (U)
THE WOMAN IN BLACK IS OUT ON FEBRUARY 10
// (Dir: George Lucas, 136 mins) That’s right - the crappy one from 1999 that introduced the much-loathed Jar Jar Binks. Some time ago, George Lucas announced plans to milk nerdy Star Wars enthusiasts dry (surely ‘present his classic space opera as you’ve never seen it before’? - Ed) by retro-fitting all six films in 3D and IMAX formats in series chronological order - i.e. beginning with the fourth film. But with audiences rapidly losing interest in the 3D fad despite the industry’s bullishness, it remains to be seen how many of the Star Wars flicks will actually get a makeover. STAR WARS: EPISODE I - THE PHANTON MENACE 3D IS OUT ON FEBRUARY 9
Big Miracle (PG) // (Dir: Ken Kawpis, 107 mins) Yes, it’s yet another rubbish ‘family film’ in the ‘Dolphin Tale’ mould, offering audiences an opportunity to coo over cute aquatic beasties sentimentally while chowing down on factory-farmed meat products. But the true story at the heart of this one is actually quite fascinating. Back in 1988, before the fall of the Berlin Wall, three grey whales were trapped in rapidly advancing Arctic ice. It took an unprecedented coalition, involving Inuit natives, the US military and a Soviet icebreaker, to free two of them. The film’s heartsinking production notes reveal that early drafts of the script were much more satirical before Ken (‘License to Wed’) Kwapis was brought in to smear treacle all over it. BIG MIRACLE IS OUT ON FEBRUARY 10
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A Monster in Paris 3D (U) // (Dir: Bibo Bergeron, 90 mins) It’s a quiet month for animation, so let’s be thankful for this bizarre new flick from Frenchman Bibo Bergeron, who appears to have scuttled home after directing such soulless bigbudget fare as ‘The Road to El Dorado’ and ‘Shark Tale’ for DreamWorks. This labour of love is a computer animated fable set in a lovingly recreated 1910 Paris. It’s the story of a lowly chump who falls for a glamorous nightclub singer. During a lab accident at a mad scientist’s pad, he inadvertently unleashes a giant flea with a beautiful singing voice… A MONSTER IN PARIS IS OUT ON JANUARY 27
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Fancy a film this month? see venue.co.uk - the new home of Venue’s what’s on listings
Ghost Rider 3D: Nic Cage returns for more Marvel comic adaptation silliness
// The Descendants (15) See review on page 40. // The Grey (15) (Dir: Joe Carnahan, 117 mins) Killer wolves are menacing a bunch of unfortunate oil rig workers who’ve been stranded after a plane crash in the Arctic wilderness. But the toothy beasts reckon without rufty-tufty Liam Neeson, who’s eager to teach ‘em a lesson with a manly knuckle sandwich or two. It’s directed by Joe Carnahan, the great auteur behind ‘The A-Team’. // House of Tolerance (18) See review on page 41. // Intruders (15) (Dir: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, 100 mins) Clive Owen's moppet is menaced by a scary hooded creature called Hollowface. Meanwhile in Spain, a traumatised lad is having the same experience. Clive calls in a child psychologist; his superstitious Spanish counterpart summons a priest. ‘28 Weeks Later’ director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo ties the two stories together. // Like Crazy (12A) See review on page 42.
// Chronicle (Dir: Josh Trank) A trio of teens acquire superpowers. // Carnage (15) See review on page 40. // Jack and Jill (PG) See review on page 42. // Journey 2: The Mysterious Island 3D (PG) (Dir: Brad Peyton, 94 mins) Follow-up to the 2008 version of Jules Verne’s ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ and its ultra-cheesy use of the then-novel 3D process. Only Josh Hutcherson remains from the original cast, though we do get shameless Michael Caine and Mr The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) this time. Caine plays Hutcherson’s grandpa, who has spent a lifetime searching for Verne’s Mysterious Island - clearly being a stranger to the concept of fiction. Needless to say, everybody (John, Grandpa, The Rock, Teen Totty, Comedy Ethnic Person) pitches up there to find it teeming with 3D critters, volcanoes and the like. // Man on a Ledge (12A) See review on page 42. // Martha Marcy May Marlene (15) See review on page 44. // Young Adult (15) See review on page 44.
// A Dangerous Method (15) See feature on pages 36-37 and review on page 43. // The Muppets (U) See review on page 43. // The Vow (12A) (Dir: Michael Sucsy, 104 mins - pictured) When Rachel McAdams awakes after a car crash, she doesn’t recognise hubby Channing Tatum. Turns out she’s lost all memory of the last five years, so Channing has to woo her over again. To complicate matters, Rachel’s last memory is of getting engaged to hunky ex-fiancé Scott Speedman. It’s a high-concept romcom in the ‘50 First Dates’ mould, but at least the porn industry won’t need to alter the plot for its inevitable disgraceful knock-off.
// This Means War (Dir: McG) The sillier the director’s name, the more awful the film. Consider the facts.
‘Catwoman’ was directed by a bloke who likes to call himself Pitof. Mr McG (that’s Joseph McGinty Nichol to his mum) blessed us with both Charlie’s Angels movies. Now he directs Tom Hardy and Chris Pine as top CIA agents who find they’re both dating Reese Witherspoon. // Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (12A) See review on page 41. // Ghost Rider 3D: Spirit of Vengeance (12A) (Dir: Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor, 95 mins) 2007’s ‘Ghost Rider’ was by far the silliest of all Marvel comicbook adaptations, which is quite some achievement. Still, it took a few quid from the fanboys, so Nic’s back in inevitable 3D. Ciaran Hinds plays the horned one this time, direction is by the blokes behind the ‘Crank’ flicks, and the trailer shows our Nic urinating flames in 3D - which perhaps sets the tone. // The Woman in the Fifth (15) See review on page 44. // Bombay Beach (TBA) See review on page 43.
158 mins) Better than we dared hope but still inevitably redundant US version of the Stieg Larsson bestseller, with Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig. // Haywire (15) (Dir: Steven Soderbergh, 93 mins) Lithe grunt’n’grapple queen Gina Carano shines in Steven Soderbergh’s otherwise rather familiar globetrotting assassin flick. HHHHH // The Iron Lady (12A) (Dir: Phyllida Lloyd, 105 mins) Meryl Streep plays Thatch in a soft-soap biopic. HHHHH // J. Edgar (15) (Dir: Clint Eastwood, 137 mins) Clint Eastwood does the man they probably didn’t call The Hoove in a meat’n’potatoes, bullet point biopic, with strong performances and appalling ageing make-up. Leo DiCaprio stars. HHHHH // Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (12A) (Dir: Brad Bird, 133 mins) Tom Cruise runs about a lot and scales tall buildings with his bare hands.
// Puss in Boots 3D (U) (Dir: Chris Miller, 90 mins) Enjoyable box office chart-topping origin tale from the ‘Shrek’ franchise, tracing the fairytale past of Antonio Banderas’s seductive swordsfeline. HHHHH // Shame (18) (Dir: Steve McQueen, 101 mins) Michael Fassbender can’t keep it in his pants while Carey Mulligan cries a lot, as usual, in Steve McQueen’s impressive sex addiction drama. HHHHH // Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (12A) (Dir: Guy Ritchie, 129 mins) Guy Ritchie’s unexpectedly enjoyable Holmes sequel, with Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law - the clear box office winner in the Christmas movie smackdown. HHHHH // The Sitter (15) (Dir: David Gordon Green, 81 mins) Horny chubster/rubbish babysitter Jonah Hill hotfoots it across New York on the promise of a legover, with brats-from-Hell in tow. Low-rent larfs ensue. // The Twilight Saga: Breaking
Dawn Part 1 (12A) (Dir: Bill Condon, 117 mins) Sulky Bella marries wooden Edward and conceives a mutant sprog, causing hunky Jacob to tear his shirt off. Again. HHHHH // Underworld: Awakening 3D (18) (Dir: Mans Marlind & Bjorn Stein, 88 mins) Kate Beckinsale straps on her tight-fitting rubber outfit and wonders what happened to her career. // War Horse (12A) (Dir: Steven Spielberg, 146 mins) You want schmaltz with your WWI? Spielberg whisks us from radiant Devonland to grim No Man’s Land with his sweeping horsey weepie, based on Michael Morpurgo’s bestseller. HHHHH // W.E. (15) (Dir: Madonna, 119 mins) Madge’s preposterous Wallis Simpson folly, which has the Nazi King-stealer popping up to dispense advice to a late ‘90s trophy wife, who’s supposed to be some kind of spiritual twin. Choke back those guffaws if you can.
SHOWING // // Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (U) (Dir: Mike Mitchell, 87 mins) Squeaky voiced singing vermin milk franchise with mysteriously popular 3D outing. // The Artist (PG) (Dir: Michel Hazanavicius, 100 mins) Michel Hazanavicius’s love letter to silent cinema is just so damn likeable that you almost begin to resent it. HHHHH // Coriolanus (15) (Dir: Ralph Fiennes, 123 mins) Ralph Fiennes has a tough, visceral bash at the Bard, awarding himself the meaty title role. HHHHH // The Darkest Hour 3D (12A) (Dir: Chris Gorak, 89 mins) Dumbass 3D alien invasion nonsense aimed at spods still mesmerised by the 3D fad. // The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (18) (Dir: David Fincher,
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// REVIEWS //
George’s stalkers were a motley bunch
Review The Descendants (15) USA 2011 115 mins Dir: Alexander Payne Starring: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Beau Bridges, Nick Krause, Judy Greer, Robert Forster // Hollywood is always at its most disingenuous and nauseating with the ‘Learning to be a Better Dad’ movie, so this is a genre into which Alexander Payne sails at his peril. It’s been seven years since the Oscar-winning ‘Sideways’, which has given him plenty of time to ponder the pitfalls of the family flick. Mercifully, that seems to have paid off. This poignant comedy reflects complicated, messy reality, walking a tightrope between humour and pain rather than trading in pat and reactionary homilies. Yes, it’s crafted with
devastating precision to pierce the hearts of Oscar voters. But in that hotly contested awards category ‘Best Performance by George Clooney’ it’s a well-deserved winner, stripping layers of self-satisfaction from the familiar Clooney persona to reveal a man adrift in ‘paradise’. Adapted from the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings, ‘The Descendants’ casts Clooney as workaholic Hawaiian lawyer and land baron Matt King, permitting him to model a succession of embarrassing shirts. As the head of his family trust, he’s being pressured by greedy relatives to agree to a development deal that would despoil a vast tract of virgin Kauai forest and give them a huge windfall. Against
Some people just can’t see the appeal of LOLcats
Review Carnage (15) France/Germany/Poland/Spain 2011 80 mins Dir: Roman Polanski Starring: Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, John C. Reilly // Set in Brooklyn but shot entirely in France for, ahem, legal reasons, Roman Polanski’s adaptation of Yasmina Reza’s acclaimed stage play could unfold in any country where there’s a large affluent population. A taut black comedy, ‘Carnage’ burrows skilfully beneath
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superficial civility to tease out fault lines of gender, class and politics which erupt into open warfare when lubricated by grievance and malt whisky. If this were an actors’ pissing contest, the magnificent Christoph Waltz would emerge as the unlikely victor, despite Kate Winslet’s impressive projectile vomiting. Polanski’s only concession to ‘opening out’ the play is a longshot depiction of the events that
this background, Matt’s wife suffers a water-skiing accident that leaves her in a coma. Suddenly, this neglectful ‘backup parent’ finds himself having to reconnect with his wayward daughters: bratty, potty-mouthed 10-year-old Scottie (Miller) and troubled 17-year-old Alexandra (Woodley), who’s been packed off to boarding school. Fireworks inevitably ensue, and the ante is upped when Alexandra drops the bombshell that her mother has been having an affair. Packing the girls and Alexandra’s asshole boyfriend Sid (Krause) into the car, Matt sets off to track down the man who cuckolded him as the film shifts into indie road movie territory. While it’s good to see Clooney
operating outside his comfort zone, newcomer Shailene Woodley is a revelation as the complex, out-of-control Alexandra. Indeed, all the supporting performances are spot-on, especially Robert Forster as Matt’s flinty, disapproving father-in-law; Beau Bridges as his Cousin Hugh, whose affability conceals a ruthless streak; and Judy Greer as a woman with whom he makes an impossible connection. Even the most stereotyped character, Nick Krause’s crass and immature stoner bozo Sid, turns out to have hidden depths. (Robin Askew) HHHHH
have brought two sets of parents together: one little brat beating the crap out of another. In the smart, tidy Brooklyn apartment occupied by improbable couple Penelope (Foster) and Michael (Reilly), the atmosphere is one of smug selfcongratulation as they welcome Nancy (Winslet) and Alan (Waltz), parents of the pint-sized brute. After all, only educated people such as themselves would seek to resolve the matter amicably. But there’s already tension in the air owing to an unfortunate hamster incident and matters are only going to get worse as the encounter evolves in real-time over the next brisk 75 minutes or so. Each of these characters is beautifully drawn and the ensemble perfectly cast. Foster’s Penelope is a humourless bleedingheart liberal writer who aches for the people of Darfur. Reilly’s schlubby hubby Michael is a lowly salesman used to tip-toeing around his brittle, morally superior spouse. Winslet’s neurotic investment
banker Nancy struggles to control her irritation at Waltz’s Alan: a sarcastic, combative lawyer, who would clearly rather be anywhere but here and breaks off frequently to deal with urgent phone calls about a case in which he’s organising a cover-up for an evil pharmaceutical corporation. Such is the build-up of tension that you yearn for Alan and Nancy to get away each time they make for the door, and - in one instance - get as far as the lift before being lured back into the apartment. A point of no return is reached when Nancy spews symbolically over Penelope’s expensive art books. But the ground shifts as relationship resentments come into play, with Alan and Michael teaming up briefly against their wives. By the closing credits, playground bullies seem positively civilised by comparison. (Robin Askew) HHHHH
Website www.foxsearchlight.com/ thedescendants/ Opens: January 27
Website www.sonyclassics.com/ carnage/ Opens: February 3
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Review Black Pond (15) UK 2011 82 mins Dir: Tom Kingsley & Will Sharpe Starring: Chris Langham, Anna O’Grady, Simon Amstell, Will Sharpe, Helen Cripps, Amanda Hadingue, Colin Hurley // We get one of these every couple of years: a hugely imaginative, ultra-low-budget Britflick of the variety that no funding body would touch with the proverbial bargepole. In fairness to the cashdistributing suits, ‘Black Pond’ does seem rather unpromising on paper. Co-directed by a twentysomething bloke who used to be in ‘Casualty’, it stars his mate,
Alas, the council’s recycling strategy did not include corpses
an annoying comedian (Simon Amstell), and an actor who must by law be described as “disgraced” after being jailed for downloading child pornography. Amstell’s presence remains problematic, but Chris Langham is quite brilliant as a tactless fiftysomething middleclass man stuck in a moribund marriage, who invites a ‘care in the community type’ into the family home on a whim. If you need a reference point, file ‘Black Pond’ next to Nick Whitfield’s pleasingly odd ‘Skeletons’. Mock-doc inserts establish that the Thompson family have been
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vilified by the tabloids after a man died at their dinner table. Flashbacks reveal the events leading up to this bizarre incident. Tom Thompson (Langham) encounters the troubled and intense Blake (Hurley) while walking his three-legged dog near a local pond. Back at the family home, Blake becomes a catalyst for Tom and his sour spouse, thwarted poet Sophie (Hadingue), to have their first proper conversation in years. Meanwhile, the empty nesters’ daughters (Cripps, O’Grady) are living with their peculiar platonic pal Tim (co-director
Sharpe), who’s in therapy with a bogus psychoanalyst (Amstell). Although Amstell threatens to unbalance the whole thing and the soundtrack boasts some particularly egregious examples of the loathsome quirky-weedyindie genre, the performances by Langham and Hadingue anchor this shaggy three-legged dog story in real sadness and melancholy. It’s also blackly funny: witness Tom’s priceless banana outburst. (Robin Askew) HHHHH Website www.blackpondfilm.com/ Opens: January 30
Review House of Tolerance(18) France 2011 126 mins Subtitles Dir: Bertrand Bernello Starring: Hafsia Herzi, Celine Sallette, Jasmine Trinca, Alice Barnole, Iliana Zabeth, Noemie Lvovsky // Awash with fin de siecle decadence, this languorous (Read: boring) account of life in an opulent Parisian bordello that “reeks of sperm and champagne” veers alarmingly from the soapy to the bizarre. It’s 1899 and the writing is already on the wall for upmarket brothel L’Appollonide, whose strict yet kindly madam Marie-France (film-maker Noemie Lvovsky) lives on the premises with her young children. Each saddled with
massive debts, the ladies lounge around in elegant tableaux, dressed to the nines apart from the bits that hang out for professional reasons, feigning interest in the often pervy aristocratic menfolk who pay for sex. One of these knifes the unfortunate Madeline (Barnole) across the face, leaving her with a grotesque fixed smile - which has the effect of making her even more attractive to the jaded as “the woman who laughs”. Another prefers his prostitutes to perform ‘doll acts’. The arrival of decidedly Rubenesque 15-year-old Pauline (Zabeth) shakes things up a bit. But for the most part it’s an endless round of sex, flushing sperm out of vaginas with cologne
at bedtime, and humiliating regular compulsory inspections by the pox doctor. As one ‘ho opines, “F*cking is a f*ck-awful job.” Claustrophobic to the point of being suffocating, ‘House of Tolerance’ is quite remarkably boring for a film with so many naked ladies spouting naughty talk. But then director Bertrand Bernello seems to have a knack for making sex dull, having been responsible for 2001’s explicit-yet-tedious ‘The Pornographer’. Sure, it’s lushly photographed, but the many mis-steps include painfully anachronistic 60s music, clunky flashbacks and leaden visual metaphors. Priapic punters should be warned they may end up yearning for the opium
pipe favoured by those onscreen. (Robin Askew) HHHHH Website www.lapollonide-music.com/ Opens: January 27 “Oh bugger - I appear to have forgotten my clothes!”
Review Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (12A) Tom was relieved to find it wasn’t a monkey on his back.
USA 2011 129 mins Dir: Stephen Daldry Starring: Tom Hanks, Thomas Horn, Sandra Bullock, John Goodman, Max von Sydow, Viola Davis, Jeffrey Wright, Zoe Caldwell
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// Awards season always brings a handful of shameful dreary duffers: films seemingly constructed solely to tug the heartstrings of the voting constituency (i.e. elderly, American). The plinky-plonky piano and plangent strings of emotional manipulation kick in from the opening scene of ‘Billy Elliot’ director Stephen Daldry’s vile stinker, adapted by veteran treaclemeister Eric (‘Forrest Gump’, etc) Roth from a novel by the author of the similarly sentimental ‘Everything is Illuminated’. The event we are obliged to call 9/11 is co-opted as a backdrop to this contrived, nauseating mush. And when it emerges that none
other than Tom Hanks, playing a Saintly Dad, has perished in the rubble, leaving behind half-a-dozen answerphone messages during his final minutes, it’s either positively unpatriotic not to shower the movie with awards or time to call for a bigger sickbucket. You decide. With Tom out of the way, but continuing to haunt the film in flashback whenever hankies threaten to lose their moistness, the film focuses on his bereaved wifey (Bullock) and son Oskar (Horn) - big hint there Mr Academy - with whom we are presumably intended to empathise because he’s borderline Asperger’s, suffers from multiple
phobias and carries a tambourine everywhere. But he’s actually just painfully precocious and annoying. Plot? Well, the grating kid finds a key in an envelope with the word ‘Black’ written on it, which he takes to be a message from Deceased Dad. Naturally, he then attempts to track down everyone in New York with the surname Black. One of them tells him to f*ck off, which provides temporary cheer. But you just know she’ll be blubbing too come closing credits time. (Robin Askew) HHHHH Website extremelyloudand incrediblyclose.warnerbros.com/ Opens: February 17
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Review Jack and Jill (PG) “You’re right - this Adam Sandler movie is twice as awful as the last one.”
USA 2011 91 mins Dir: Denis Dugan Starring: Adam Sandler, Al Pacino, Katie Holmes // What could be more annoying than Adam Sandler? Why two
Adam Sandlers, of course - one of them ‘hilariously’ done up in drag. Having blessed his undemanding audience with this single joke, it’s business as usual for Sandler: lowest common denominator flatulence gags, sickening sentimentality, ethnic stereotyping that straddles the lazy/offensive divide, breathtakingly shameless product placement (Subway reportedly paid to have their spokesman, Jared Fogle, included in the cast, which must mark a new low) and grim cameos by his celebrity mates (US sports and TV stars you won’t have heard of, plus an embarrassedlooking Johnny Depp). In case you’re wondering, Al Pacino’s smugly self-
Review Like Crazy (12A) USA 2011 90 mins Dir: Drake Doremus Starring: Felicity Jones, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence, Charlie Bewley, Alex Kingston // Just as one suspects there’s a factory somewhere churning out commercials/pop video directors who go on to make empty, soulless blockbusters, so there must be a Sundance equivalent where purveyors of indie-cutesy whimsy are lovingly knitted from organic whole wheat pasta while Belle and Sebastian muzak is played on a loop. The best one can say about this drippy, formulaic long-distance love yarn, which essentially gives an artsy
makeover to the Drew Barrymore romcom ‘Going the Distance’ for people who imagine they’re too clever and sensitive for such stuff, is that it offers talented, likeable Brit Felicity Jones a meaty role to justify that premature Next Big Thing status thrust upon her before the feeble ‘Chalet Girl’ flopped so badly. Still just about able to get away with playing a student at 28, Jones is a middle-class aspiring journalist in LA who starts a relationship with furniture designer Anton Yelchin, sparked by their mutual love of Paul Simon’s 80s middlebrow coffee table favourite, ‘Graceland’. It’s
mocking role doesn’t really count as a cameo. It’s a major part in the film, permitting him to do some of the shouting he so often prefers to acting, while sending up ‘Scarface’ and ‘The Godfather’. It’s rather like the least funny episode of ‘Extras’ ever made. Of course, Sandler has form when it comes to humiliating Oscar-winners. His previous film, ‘Just Go With It’, co-starred Nicole Kidman. Sandler plays commercials director Jack Sadelstein, who’s married to the unfortunate Erin (Holmes) and has an adopted Indian son for comedy reasons. Jack dreads the annual Thanksgiving visit by his sister
Jill (yup, Sandler again): a loud, tactless, stupid, sweaty Jewish spinster. But he’s also keen to sign Al Pacino for a career-saving Dunkin’ Donuts TV ad. Naturally, Al falls for Jill and mirthless PGrated shenanigans ensue. By the time the ‘womb mates’ resort to burbling twin baby talk at one another during the climactic onslaught of grotesque family values sentiment, Pacino’s verdict on Jack’s commercial (“Burn this. This must never be seen.”) becomes an insightful critique of the film itself. (Robin Askew) HHHHH Website www.jackandjill-movie.com/ Opens: February 3
“Wow! We’re so in love, I didn’t notice we were sitting in dogshit.”
not long before they’re walking barefoot in the sand and waltzing along pavements while staring meaningfully into each other’s eyes as plangent piano plinks and plonks in the background. But - oh no! - Felicity’s visa is about to run out, forcing the lovebirds’ separation. She cops off with control freak ‘Twilight’ hunkster Charlie Bewley while carpenter boy gets wood with blonde hottie Jennifer Lawrence. But they each wind up pulling
sulky faces after sex with their new lovers, signifying profound soulmate withdrawal. Can the Atlantic and nasty officialdom keep these great lovers apart? Will we make it to the end credits without a ‘shouting in the kitchen’ sequence? What on earth does lovely Felicity see in grumpy, possessive Anton anyway? (Robin Askew) HHHHH Website www.likecrazy.com/ Opens: January 27
Review Man on a Ledge (12A) USA 2012 102 mins Dir: Asger Leth Starring: Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell, Ed Harris, Anthony Mackie, Genesis Rodriguez // Serving 25 years in the slammer, ex-cop Nick Cassidy (Worthington) is granted permission to attend his father’s funeral. But after a graveside altercation with his brother Joey (Bell), he scarpers. And now here he is, stepping onto the ledge on the umpteenth floor of a swanky Manhattan hotel and threatening to splat himself on the pavement below. Naturally, a crowd swiftly gathers, wielding
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cameraphones and helpfully chanting “Jump! Jump! Jump!” The Evil Media seem equally ghoulish, with camera crews taking bets on how long it’ll take him to leap to his doom. Enter the cops, but Nick won’t speak to anyone other than troubled negotiator Lydia Mercer (Banks), who’s promptly rousted from her bed. Hang on a moment, though - what’s this? Joey and his Mexican hottie girlfriend Angie (Rodriguez) are doing the Mission: Impossible thing as they break into a heavily fortified adjacent building. It seems that Nick’s attempted ‘suicide’ is just a
distraction while the intrepid duo secure the evidence that will prove his innocence. Don’t worry: I’m not giving anything away here. It’s all in the trailer, and a lot more besides. A blend of the heist flick with the ‘Phone Booth’-style single-location thriller, Danish film-maker Asger Leth’s first venture into US action movie territory suffers from the familiar problem of a clever thriller set-up that’s frittered away during a frantic and preposterous third act. Ed Harris really doesn’t get enough screen time as the villainous tycoon who even resembles Mr Burns
from certain angles. But if you think Mr. Leth is going to waste the opportunity to find a vital reason for shapely newcomer Genesis Rodriguez to strip down to her bra and panties, you are very much mistaken. (Robin Askew) HHHHH Website www.manonaledge.com/ Opens: February 3 Sam began to suspect that the film crew had forgotten him and gone home
1/25/2012 2:51:29 PM
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“I say, Sigmund - are you sucking on some kind of penis?”
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Review The Muppets (U) USA 2011 110 mins Dir: James Bobin Starring: The Muppets, Amy Adams, Jason Segel, Chris Cooper, Jack Black
A Dangerous Method (15) UK/Germany/Canada/Switzerland 2011 100 mins Dir: David Cronenberg Starring: Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, Vincent Cassel, Sarah Gadon // Keira Knightley writhes, moans, howls and juts her already impressive jaw like, well, an actress who’s just been told she won’t be getting an Oscar despite doing mental illness and a funny foreign accent in the same scene. Those who are tempted to conclude that this OTT turn at the outset of David Cronenberg’s atypical ‘A Dangerous Method’ merits a firm spanking with a leather strap will be delighted to find Michael Fassbender, contemporary cinema’s Mr Sexual Perversion, correcting Ms Knightley vigorously later in the film. Cronenberg tackling Freud and Jung conjures up the delicious prospect of the great master of body horror going to town on the unconscious mind in general and phallic symbolism in particular. What we actually get in Christopher Hampton’s adaptation of his own play is a talky, inert and fatally tasteful drama in which the rival psychoanalysts sit around Another appalling plastic surgery scandal came to light
USA 2011 80 mins Dir: Alma Har’el // The opening crackly vintage newsreel footage informs us that the inland Salton Sea was created in 1905 when the Colorado River overflowed its banks. Perched on its eastern shore is the desert
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exchanging great gobbets of often barely digestible dialogue. “This rod,” muses Freud (Mortensen) of one of Jung’s (Fassbender) racy dreams. “Have you entertained the possibility that it might be the penis?” Whatever happened to ‘show, don’t tell’? In thrall to the beardy Freud, the young, er, Jung takes a hands-on approach to the talking cure when “vile, filthy and corrupt” (her description) virginal medical student Sabina Spielrein (Knightly, gurning as though auditioning for the lead in ‘The Exorcism of Emily Rose’) turns up for her spanking therapy. Remarkably, he also finds time to sire several children with long-suffering Mrs Jung (Gadon) and tussle with his illustrious mentor, who, in something of a pot/kettle situation, he believes to be obsessed with sex. On paper, this should have been a dramatic firecracker. But somewhere in translation it became disappointingly flat and uninvolving. (Robin Askew) HHHHH
// Will anyone remember the Muppets 12 years on from their last feature film? Rather than ignoring this burning issue, Disney’s ‘reboot’ of the late Jim Henson’s furry critter franchise/sinister liberal brainwashing conspiracy (as it’s known to devotees of barking mad Fox News) makes a feature of the Muppets’ irrelevance in a cynical modern world where the most popular kids’ TV show is called ‘Punch Teacher’. In the hands of Ali G/’Flight of the Conchords’ writer/ director James Bobin, ‘The Muppets’ is self-aware without being too knowingly post-modern; an unexpectedly enjoyable treat that should “Keep smiling, human scum - and remember you’re on a fraction of our wages”
Website www.sonyclassics.com/ adangerousmethod/index.php Opens: February 10
delight nostalgic parents and get a whole new generation of kids singing the ‘Mahnamahna’ song. The delicious conceit has manchild Gary (Segel) growing up in Smalltown USA with his brother Walter, who’s a Muppet - though nobody comments on this until they each address their respective existential crises during the heartfelt song ‘Am I a Man or a Muppet?’ Walter worships Kermit and co and insists on visiting the Muppet studio when Gary and his long-suffering girlfriend Mary (Adams) take him to LA. But it turns out the old place is threatened by evil oil baron Tex Richman (Cooper, on fine scenery chewing form) so the race is on to get the gang back together for a charity telethon. Turns out Kermit has become a mansion-dwelling recluse with his 80s robot, Fozzie leads a dodgy counterfeit troupe called The Moopets, Animal is undergoing anger-management therapy with Jack Black, and Miss Piggy is the Plus-Size Editor of Vogue in Paris. Much fun is had at the expense of the film-making process (love those montage and ‘travel by map’ gags), and who could resist a Muppet barbershop quartet cover of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’? (Robin Askew) HHHHH Website disney.go.com/muppets/ Opens: February 10
Review Bombay Beach (TBA) community of Bombay Beach. Back in the ‘50s, this was billed optimistically as “the new recreational capital of the world”. Today, it’s a barren and decaying wilderness with an everdeclining trailer trash population. ‘Bombay Beach’ focuses on three subjects. The tattooed Parrishes are like a caricature problem family, their hobbies being breeding, child neglect, living in squalor and blowing shit up. These days, they’re working hard to prevent son Benny being taken into care again, but the bipolar kid’s pumped full of drugs and has an alarmingly vacant stare. Self-styled “lucky cuss” Red is a racist old coot who ekes
a living selling cigarettes. The only hopeful figure is CeeJay, an ambitious young black refugee from South Central LA. For him, the boredom of Bombay Beach is a welcome respite from the drug and gang culture that claimed the life of his cousin. This is certainly a poignant setting for an exploration of the death of the American Dream. Be warned, however, that Israeli-born video artist Alma Har’el takes an openly ‘poetic’ approach to her subject, which, while serving up some undeniably beautiful images, smacks uncomfortably of poverty tourism.
More troublingly, in addition to persuading her subjects to participate in surreal dance routines, she appears to be magically on hand to record dramatic moments in their lives. Maybe she really was present when a vile youth threatened to distribute photographs of his underage girlfriend performing oral sex on him, and both of them were happy for the exchange to be filmed. But it feels like the rightly despised “structured reality” genre with arty overtones. (Robin Askew) HHHHH Website bombaybeachfilm.co.uk/ Opens: February 17
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Review Young Adult (15) If he refused to sleep with her, she planned to set Fido on him.
USA 2011 94 mins Dir: Jason Reitman Starring: Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, Patton Oswalt, Elizabeth Reaser // “From the writer and director of ‘Juno’” is quite a selling point,
but it also sets the bar very high. Their intervening projects - Diablo Cody’s ‘Jennifer’s Body’ and Jason Reitman’s ‘Up in the Air’ - were nowhere near as successful. And while this concise indie cringecomedy benefits from Cody’s zingy, if mercifully toned-down dialogue, while providing Charlize Theron with her best role in years, it also feels rather uncomfortably like yet another salvo in Hollywood’s ongoing war on the contentedly unmarried and child-free. Theron’s Mavis Gary could be a damaged second cousin of Cameron Diaz’s Bad Teacher. A heavy-drinking late-thirtysomething given to onenight-stands, her job as a ghostwriter
of young adult fiction is coming to an end. Her only companion is a yappy little dog, following a divorce about which we learn nothing. At a crossroads in her life, Mavis packs up the mutt and returns from Minneapolis to the small town where she grew up, determined to reconnect with her high-school boyfriend, Buddy Slade (Wilson). In a bar, she encounters geeky loner ex-classmate Matt Freehauf (Oswalt), whose life hasn’t moved on since he was disabled in a school bullying incident. He points out that Mavis’s plan is a really bad idea, since Buddy is now married and has a life. “He hasn’t got a life,” she snorts. “He’s got a baby. Babies are boring!”
Review Martha Marcy May Marlene (15) USA 2011 102 mins Dir: Sean Durkin Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Sarah Paulson, Hugh Dancy, John Hawkes // The tongue-twisty title should present quite a challenge at the box office, but signals that this is a film dealing primarily with identity - specifically the ways in which the vulnerable and insecure can be bent to the will of a cunning manipulator. Once Martha (Olsen) is snared in the web of charismatic, guitar-pickin’ cult leader Patrick (Hawkes) on an outwardly idyllic rural commune, the first thing he does is take away her name. “You look like a Marcy May to me,” he
says with a crocodile smile, flattering this fatally needy waif with the attention she so obviously craves. The film opens with Martha fleeing through the woods, hotly pursued by one of Patrick’s underlings. No violence is used in his attempt to persuade her to return, but that fact that she’s shaking with fear suggests none is needed. Summoning up the courage to phone Lucy (Paulson), the guilt-plagued sister she hasn’t seen for two years, Martha is whisked to the palatial Connecticut lakeside abode her sibling shares with corporate hubby Ted (Dancy). But her increasingly anti-social
behaviour and refusal to discuss what happened threatens to drive a wedge between the couple. Past, present, dreams and memories then begin to meld as the cult’s Mansonesque tendencies are revealed. The trump card of writer/director Sean Durkin’s feature debut is its psychological plausibility, especially in the way the cult’s women are made complicit in the sexual abuse of newcomers. Elizabeth Olsen, younger sister of the shiny Olsen twins, gives a tremendous performance as Martha, while John Hawkes must surely rank as indie cinema’s pre-eminent Mr Sinister after this and ‘Winter’s
So the stage is set for the inevitable hugely embarrassing watch-through-your-fingers showdown as this inebriated prom queen-gone-to-seed attempts to seduce her domesticated exlover away from his homely, conspicuously less attractive spouse (Reaser). At least Reitman and Cody have the good sense not to spoil the sour laughs with a redemptive ending, but some may find Mavis just too damn unsympathetic as a result. (Robin Askew) HHHHH Website www.youngadultmovie. com/ Opens: February 3 “Now did you remember to wash your brain this morning?”
Bone’. The only mis-step is Durkin’s deployment of a cop-out ‘Another Earth’-style ‘enigmatic’ ending. (Robin Askew) HHHHH Website www.foxsearchlight.com/ marthamarcymaymarlene/ Opens: February 3
Review The Woman in the Fifth (15) France/Poland/UK 2011 84 mins Dir: Pawel Pawlikowski Starring: Kristin Scott Thomas, Ethan Hawke, Samir Guesmi, Joanna Kulig, Delphine Chuillot // An American man arrives in Paris, announcing that he’s come to live with his French wife and No matter how many times Ethan read the script, he still couldn’t figure out what was going on
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raise their daughter. When he turns up at her apartment, however, she looks terrified, tries to prevent him coming in, and calls the police to report a breach of a restraining order. It’s a promising start to Polish-born Brit director Pawel Pawlikowski’s belated follow-up to his excellent ‘My Summer of Love’. But this adaptation of US author Douglas Kennedy’s novel never really gets out of first gear, setting up several mysteries but delivering only a dreary and unrewarding meditation on paranoia and madness, filled with laboured insect/ wood/owl symbolism, that only the most charitable would describe as
Kafka-esque. The American is literature professor and novelist Tom Ricks (Hawke). He’s subsequently robbed of all his possessions and winds up in a squalid room at a run-down hotel, whose dodgy proprietor Sezer (Guesmi) offers him employment to pay for his accommodation. It never seems to occur to Ricks to contact his bank or the US Consulate. The job is night watchman at a mysterious warehouse filled with weird noises and what appear to be streaks of blood. Meanwhile, he feuds with a hostile neighbour over toilet etiquette, unwisely has it off with Sezer’s polish barmaid girlfriend
(Kulig), and becomes entangled with glamorous translator Margit (Scott Thomas), who lives in a swish fifth arrondissement apartment (hence the title). Twists then suggest that Ricks might be a few chapters short of a novel. But it’s all rather tiresomely sub-Polanski, with more attention played to mood than coherence. One suspects that only the film’s brevity will forestall a stampede for the exits by loss-cutting arthouse punters with an eye on closing time. (Robin Askew) HHHHH Website www.artificial-eye.com/ Opens: February 17
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// DVDs //
CINecisms Filmic … Chemical Bros … Arty stuff … Valentine’s … and how mobile phones have triggered a civil war
duo’s new film Don’t Think at cinemas locally on Fri 3. www. dontthinkmovie.com … Live arty stuff beamed into our fleapits this month includes Il Trittico from the Royal Opera House (Mon 6) and Travelling Light from the National Theatre (Thur 9) … Bath’s Little Theatre celebrates Valentine’s Day with another screening of Romantic Anonymous (Tue 14, obviously), at which lovers can gorge themselves sick on Hotel Chocolate goodies. The Little also has a one-off screening of the documentary Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel (Tue 21) … The 50th anniversary of Charles Laughton’s death is all the excuse the Watershed needs
he big news this month (and next) is Filmic - a series of talks, concerts and films exploring the relationship between film and music, organised by the Watershed and St Georges. It kicks off on Thur 9 at St Georges with a performance by the self-explanatory Spaghetti Western Orchestra (pictured). Film highlights at the Watershed include a complementary season of spaghetti westerns picked by Sir Christopher Frayling (who’ll be talking about the genre on Sun 5), and PJ Harvey’s collaboration with war photographer Seamus Murphy, Let England Shake (Sun 26) … Still with music, Chemical Brothers fans can catch the
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Takings for the weekend of January 20-22
£3,202,493 (£9,639,624, 2 weeks)
£1,197,866 (new release)
£910,382 (new release)
Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol
£815,330 (£16,686,503, 4 weeks)
£1,114,327 (new release)
Chart copyright Screen International
// As far as the meeja are concerned, it’s all about awards at this time of year. But the only nominees taking any money at the moment are The Iron lady and The Artist. The latter’s relatively lowly chart position is explained by the fact that it’s still showing on around a quarter of the number screens hogged by Spielberg’s chart-topper War Horse (pictured). But the French silent movie boasts the second highest screen average of any film on release. Steven Soderbergh’s enjoyable ass-whupper Haywire beat the umpteenth Underworld flick, Underworld: Awakening. J. Edgar, meanwhile, failed to chart, as did Madonna’s woeful W.E., despite all that hype. But Madge’s ex-hubby Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows continues to do remarkably well, having seen off both Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
to revive Laughton’s only film as director - the brilliant The Night of the Hunter (Sat 11) … This month’s Bristol Indymedia Film Night screening at the Cube is the eye-opening Blood in the Mobile (Mon 2), exploring how our addiction to mobile phones is fuelling a bloody civil war in the Congo. Director Frank Poulsen will be present for a Q&A … Also at the Cube this month is the one-day Zipangu Fest (Sun 19) of Japanese film. This includes a rare screening of The Ghost Cat and the Mysterious Shamisen from 1938 - one of the few surviving pre-war Japanese horror flicks and part of a folklore-based film cycle centred on moggies from beyond the grave.
bUMS ON SEATS
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
£956,434 (£24,627,233, 6 weeks)
The Iron Lady
£949,517 (£7,162,492, 3 weeks)
£770,403 (£3,205,883, 4 weeks)
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked £568,758 (£13,111,689, 6 weeks)
Puss in Boots
£568,590 (£13,645,623, 7 weeks)
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (15) // Tomas Alfredson’s suitably grainy and downbeat adaptation of the John le Carre Cold War spy classic. Alfredson delivers some impressively tense set-pieces in his atmospheric, elegantly flashbackdriven portrait of this murky, squalid world. The performances are uniformly excellent, with Gary Oldman particularly impressive as the fastidious, emotionally desiccated Smiley. Out: Jan 30. HHHHH
ALSO RELEASED // Drive (18) HHHHH Actor of the moment Ryan Gosling stars as a Hollywood stuntman by day and getaway driver by night in one of 2011’s classiest thrillers. Out: Jan 30 … Tyrannosaur (18) HHHHH Paddy Considine’s ultra-bleak first feature as director: an actors’ showcase with Peter Mullan as a crumpled widower prone to violent outbursts and Olivia Colman as the Christian charity shop worker who befriends him. Eddie Marsan pops up too as the most irredeemable bastard he’s played to date. Out: Feb 6 … Miss Bala (15) HHHHH Terrific Mexican thriller about an aspiring beauty queen who becomes sucked into the drugs trade and its attendant gang warfare, which corrupts all sections of society. Out: Feb 20 … Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (15) HHHHH Guillermo Del Toro wrote and produced this effective haunted house horror: a remake of an obscure 1973 TV movie that scared the willies out of him as a kid. Out: Feb 20 … One Day (12) HHHHH An adaptation of David Nicholls’ bestselling upmarket romance, which divided fans of the book on account of the casting of glamorous American Anne Hathaway as a mousy Brit. Out: Feb 6 … Crazy Stupid Love (12) HHHHH Steve Carell returns to ‘40 Year Old Virgin’ territory with this comedy about a divorced loser who’s taught lessons in seduction by suave Ryan Gosling (yup, him again). Out: Jan 30 … Red State (18) HHHHH Atypical yet enjoyable Kevin Smith horror satire in which a trio of teens are held captive by a crazy Christian preacher. Out now
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1/24/2012 12:52:14 PM
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For more news, reviews and extra pics, see venue.co.uk/music
California dreamin’ Gospelling country soulsters Phantom Limb launch their second studio album this month. Leah Pritchard goes behind ‘The Pines’.
urrounded by Long Beach on all sides, Signal Hill is a small city in Los Angeles County most famous for its oil production in the early 1920s when, as part of the Long Beach oil field, it was supplying a fifth of America’s oil. Nowadays, supplies have depleted somewhat, though nodding donkey pumps are still scattered across the city and it is not rare to be disturbed by the sound of explosives as workers attempt to reach more oil reserves. These were the sounds Phantom Limb mistook for an earthquake in 2010 whilst visiting the city to record their second album – the follow-up to 2008’s eponymous debut. Staying in a motel which allows patrons to pay by the hour hardly seems like the most relaxing environment in which to make a record, but if there was one theme for the writing and recording process for ‘The Pines’, it would definitely be something along the lines of learning when the hell to let go. “Here’s my baby, could you not slap it about?” is singer Yolanda Quartey’s metaphor for working with producer Marc Ford rather than self-producing this time around. “It’s a tender handing over. If you trust the babysitter,
“You’ve got to choose which particular demon to pursue at any one time.” Yolanda, Phantom Limb venuemagazine
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you’re good. We’re lucky to have that core of trust. It at least fights against your knee-jerk reaction to be a control freak.” Although the prevailing description of their time in California is that it was “All high fives and tequila! Don Julio as far as the eye could see!”, it did take three days for the knee jerks to stop and for Ford to stop getting on guitarist Stew Jackson’s tits (“He knew it! He really knew it”). What was so hard for Jackson to swallow was the idea that the first record was over-baked, that Ford could only listen to a few songs at a time, but he admits now that it was easy to get indulgent and lack objectivity when handling production duties himself. Handing the reins over to someone else and creating an album in just nine days, Jackson says, “doesn’t allow you to look at things too deeply or out of context. There wasn’t time to build a web of lies. There wasn’t enough time to be anything but honest.” Which is what he was when Ford suggested they bring his father-in-law into the studio to add string parts (“It didn’t feel right”). In those nine days, a spontaneous gospel choir had been formed, accordion and harmonica players had dropped in and out and Greg Leisz (whose playing has appeared on records by everyone from Bob Dylan to Beck) had stopped by in-between recording with Lucinda Williams at Capitol Studios. They’d been open to musicians dropping by at Ford’s suggestion and the musicians’ leisure but, as Yolanda explains, it was easy to get carried away once the tough first three days had passed. “Everyone just landed in the same place, so hard, that we all just ran off into the distance, extremely over-enthused. The result could be that we ran away with the ball too easily.” They’ve been a band for almost
eight years now (the length of time between albums the result of a combination of factors, they say – a significant one being the “pituitary retards” they encountered when they got involved with major labels) but, over-enthusiastic overdubs notwithstanding, this album is the first time the band have really sounded comfortable. As Quartey says, they’ve grown into their influences. What seemed most important was that the band also learned to grow into their roles in the music industry outside the band (Quartey, for instance, has sung backing vocals for Massive Attack and Adele): “You’ve got to choose which particular demon to pursue at any one time. If you’re smart with it, it’ll hurt a lot less.
There are horrible stereotypes that people would love to crowbar you into. All of them are a violation of everything that I find to be comfortable and conducive to me being happy or creative. You’ve got to cut all that stuff out and actually do something for yourself for five minutes.” It’s not all bad news, Jackson says: “We’ve all chosen a route which means we don’t have to get up early in the morning or go to an office or constantly wish we were doing something else. The best reason to be in a band? You can wear your own clothes.” PHANTOM LIMB PLAY THE FLEECE, BRISTOL ON THUR 16 FEB. ‘THE PINES’ IS RELEASED ON MON 13 FEB.
The stereotype-resisting Phantom Limb: pleased as punch to get the second album in the bag
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Music // THE MONTH AHEAD // ROCK Field Music
// Field Music play Bristol exactly 10 days after their fourth album ‘Plumb’ is due to hit the shelves. It’s where modern indie pop meets classic prog rock in a punchy, 15tracks-in-35-minutes package. Or where The Beatles, The Who and The Beach Boys would land if they passed through a time vortex to the 21st century, rough edges ground down along the way.
// It’s Bob’s birthday (don’t DARE ask ‘Bob who?’) so enter Macka.B, Wolverhampton’s finest Rastaman-toaster and long-time lab assistant to the Mad Professor to preside over the celebrations. Komedia salutes the late Tuff Gong with a night of top-class rockers, with righteous support from The Roots Ragga Band, MessenJah Youth and Largo Embargo.
FIELD MUSIC PLAY THE FLEECE, BRISTOL, THUR 23 FEB.
MACKA.B PLAYS KOMEDIA, BATH, MON 6 FEB.
// Where better to play songs that were penned by the spirits themselves? The former Strangelove frontman plays an intimate acoustic set amongst the headstones. Don’t expect the experience to be limited to the music – and don’t say we didn’t warn you. PATRICK DUFF PLAYS ARNOS VALE CEMETERY, BRISTOL, SAT 4 FEB.
ROCK Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!
PIC: SUSSIE AHLBURG
ROOTS Patrick Duff
CLASSICAL Bath Bachfest
// Slick, upbeat indie rock from this Brooklyn five-piece who released the propulsive, synth-laden ‘Hysterical’ last year. Giving the post-Springsteen generations a reason to punch the air.
// Out of small acorns... Not content with November’s deluxe Bath Mozartfest, the organisers are dipping a toe into Bach with a Feb minifest, small but perfectly formed. (You’d expect no less!) Concertos from the Academy of Ancient Music with the wondrous Alina Ibragimova (pictured), chamber Florilegium, and top-drawer choral music in the Abbey fingering the sassy Retrospect Ensemble: Bach with bite!
CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH! PLAY THEKLA, BRISTOL, SAT 4 FEB.
BACHFEST VARIOUS VENUES, BATH, FRI 24SAT 25 FEB.
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For more news, reviews and extra pics, see venue.co.uk/music
6. ROCK Gauntlet Hair // Denver dream-pop duo making bedroom dance hits reminiscent of Animal Collective on a garage rock kick.
ROCK The Big Pink + 2:54
GAUNTLET HAIR PLAY THE CROFT, BRISTOL, SUN 19 FEB.
// Electro-rockers The Big Pink are joined by the brooding, scuzzy psych rock of London duo 2:54. Sultry vocals and grungey guitars. THE BIG PINK + 2:54 PLAY THEKLA, BRISTOL, WED 8 FEB.
CLASSICAL Death’s Cabaret JAZZ John Law/Greatness of the Magnificence // Celebrating two giants of film music, St George’s brings together a delicious double-bill of musical reinterpretation. Astonishing pianist John Law will play solo arrangements of Fellini’s music maestro Nino Rota while the carnival eclecticism of The Greatness of the Magnificence present a Spaghetti Western tribute ‘Looking For Ennio’. Just don’t ask for extra cheese with that… JOHN LAW/GREATNESS OF THE MAGNIFICENCE ST GEORGE’S BRISTOL, THUR 23 FEB.
// January torpor cedes to February stirrings as Armonico Handel, Padmore Winterreise, the OAE and Brodskys enliven St George’s, and Marin Alsop squares up to Shostakovich at the Colston Hall; but for something more off-piste head to King St for ‘Death’s Cabaret’, a ‘concerto’ like no other uniting the Sacconi Quartet, cellist/ singer/actor Matthew Sharp and a score by Stephen Deazley majoring in fear, death, love and loss. “Lean, beautiful and very distinctive,” says Sharp. DEATH’S CABARET IS AT BRISTOL OLD VIC, TUE 21-WED 22 FEB.
ROOTS Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny // Imagine a Disney interpretation of Joni Mitchell’s back catalogue with the most refined New Weird America vocal singing antifolk melodies. That she hails from Newcastle is a hard one to swallow. BETH JEANS HOUGHTON & THE HOOVES OF DESTINY PLAY THE LOUISIANA, BRISTOL, TUE 28 FEB.
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Music Joan of dark
For more news, reviews and extra pics, see venue.co.uk/music
It’s taken a while for Big Joan to release new long-player ‘The Long Slow Death of …’, but it’s been worth the wait, says Julian Owen.
was bored out of my mind in Southampton, pinned Adam Burrows against a wall and told him we were going to form a band,” says Annette Berlin. The singer had her guitarist, who in turn knew a bassist, Simon Jarvis, and later a drummer, Keith Hall. “We had to play a gig within a week of forming because Annette wanted to play,” says Adam. “And what Annette wants, Annette gets.” From small, violently planted acorns... That was 1999. Since then, the Big Joan tree has grown branches (each member has at least one Little Joan at home) and matured into something deep rooted and, with the release of their new album, altogether rare: at a stage of career when most bands struggle even to tread creative water, ‘The Long, Slow Death Of Big Joan’ is the best thing they’ve done. Venue wonders whether the band – gathered early evening around a Llandoger table – agree, and is met by a chorus of firm yeses. “I was amazed when it came back and I heard it,” says Annette. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First we need to retrieve the band from Southampton, where three boys were gelling around “both alternative rock and dance music – it’s the reason we formed a band together”, and a self-confessed rock chick girl was largely leaving them to it: “Even though I grew
“No one of us could listen to a Big Joan track and say ‘That’s my song’.” Adam Burrows, Big Joan venuemagazine
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up in Berlin I was never into techno. They went clubbing a lot, sometimes I’d pop in, but I do love some of the beats that come out of jungle.” If early Big Joan’s ferocious breakbeat undercarriage was largely conceived in Southampton, the 2000 move to Bristol brought its own influence, says Simon: “We got more into rock music from knowing bands like Geisha and Ivory Springer.” As prime movers of the nascent Choke collective, he and Adam would also be bringing to town – and drawing inspiration from – bands like Mugstar. Above all, there was the “close kinship” of fellow rock/dance splicers Mooz. Though you’d never mistake them for being prolific, by 2006 Big Joan had nevertheless released a couple of EPs and an album. And from then ’til the new album? Precisely one minute of new music: ‘Bozone’, from Choke’s free ‘Minutiae’ compilation. But let’s not feel short-changed, for today we reap a splendid dividend, as Adam explains: “We’ve collected songs over several years and only recorded the best ones. We might have made three albums by now, but none as good as this.” Recorded with regular collaborator Ali Chant at Toybox, mixing duties were handed to Anton Maiof in Berlin. “When Anton was in Bristol,” says Adam, “he was a noise musician and in Geisha, that’s how we know him. He wasn’t doing the fun Italo disco he’s doing now.” “So we expected it all in the red,” says Simon, “but it wasn’t like that at all.” Indeed not. It’s still recognisably Big Joan – venomous rhythms dissected by guitar slashes and woven together by Annette’s extraordinary vocal fury – but the balance is new. “We were always skewing the sound, had loads
Big Joan: the cushion might be soft, the music ain't
of bass and drums,” says Adam. “Whereas Tony’s just gone ‘What does this song need?’” “The vocals are in the front, the synths are loud, it sounds contemporary,” says Simon. On tracks like ‘The Creature’ there’s a quietness that’s wholly new. “The beauty with the vocals is he’s made it sound so lovely,” says Annette. “I couldn’t believe what he’d done – I’ve not heard myself like that before.” It’s truly a splendid thing to witness a band rapt in near-wonder at what they’ve just achieved. But perhaps it couldn’t have come any sooner. Because, says Adam, in those intervening years they’ve kept “going down this idiosyncratic road of becoming more ourselves. It’s a cliché to say bands have a gang mentality, but there is a certain comfort. If you come up with something but no one else gets it, it’s dropped; if everyone loves it, that’s validation for what you’re doing, and gives you confidence to be able to keep doing it. It makes you immune to what anybody outside
the band thinks.” The songwriting process is fully collective, says Keith, “could just come from a drum beat, or a bassline, or hinge on rearrangement of a lyric”. “If every person in the band is a songwriter,” says Adam, “you have a combined personality. No one of us could listen to a Big Joan track and say ‘That’s my song’.” To varying degrees, each member is involved in different musical projects. They learn from these, they say, but Keith sums up the general mood: “Big Joan feels like home to me. Whenever I come back I think ‘Oh, yes!’” “I’m very proud of that,” says Annette. “That’s probably why we’re still going. The same line-up, the same people. There’s no ego or infighting. There’s no leader, it just gels.” ‘THE LONG, SLOW DEATH OF BIG JOAN’ IS OFFICIALLY LAUNCHED AT THE LOUISIANA, BRISTOL ON FRI 10 FEB, WITH SUPPORT FROM THE LIFTMEN AND TBC. FFI: BIGJOAN.BANDCAMP.COM
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Reviews // ALBUMS, SINGLES, EPs, downloads// FRANCOIS & THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS
‘E Volo Love’ (LP, Domino) // Whilst the minutiae of the human condition might not present themselves as readily as in a Michel Gondry production, the parallels that exist between the French film-maker’s quirky pictures and Francois’s latest album stretch beyond the bilingual dialogue, both presenting the darkness beneath the dreamy haze as a sigh over a scream. It’s light-hearted without spilling over into sickly twee, afrobeat rhythms and buoyant guitar lines washed out and relegated to backing for the emotional crooning rather than the driving force for a crowd’s worth of foot tapping. Even the Anglophonic songs are rooted in chanson – it is rare and gratifying for such a modern-sounding record to be so inextricably tied to its home country. (Leah Pritchard) HHHHH www. francoisandtheatlasmountains.com
THE HYSTERICAL INJURY
‘Dead Wolf Situation’ (LP, Crystal Fuzz) // Yes, Hysterical Injury brandish nothing more than vocal mic, bass and drums and, yes, the noise they make is astonishing. But to conjoin these facts is to faint the praise, the journo equivalent of “Hey, you’re looking really good for your age.” Rather, their noise is astonishing in its own right, such as the Donna Summer disco chorusing atop Neverminding riffology on ‘Vex’, or Kate Bush reliving a Sonic Youth on ‘Bitch’s Balls’. 12 tracks of palpable urgency, of pop as pure as it is brutal – think The Chiffons’ catalogue reworked for steam hammer – and of clear-eyed lyrical righteousness. A debut to be dazzled by. (Julian Owen) HHHHH thehystericalinjury.co.uk
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‘Troubled Teens’ (Single, Twisted Nerve) // It’s disappointing that the first pressing of The Liftmen’s ‘Luftwaffe Pond’ (out 2 Apr) was destroyed in the riot-induced PIAS fire last year. You would have hoped that, if miracles did exist, they would exist in the form of fumes of polycarbonate plastic leading to the discovery of a perfectly preserved box of Liftmen CDs, somehow flung from the blaze just in time. But miracles do not exist and if you want a taste of gritty reality, you could do worse than listen to the album’s first single, ‘Troubled Teens’. Cryptic lyrics speak of a dark urban landscape – dirty fights and “waiting for the offy to open” – over the muted tones of angular guitar riffs, driven by krautrock rhythms. (Leah Pritchard) HHHHH www.liftmen. org.uk
‘Beginnings’ (Album, Edition Records) // It takes practice and inspiration to become a hotshot jazzer but only a special maturity can discipline that musicality for maximum effect. Saxophonist Josh Arcoleo (23) has all of the above, and thus his debut album shows the hallmarks of greatness. With top sidesmen Ivo Neame (piano), Callum Gourlay (bass) and James Maddren (drums) and eight of his own terrific compositions, Arcoleo’s fulsome tone weaves the elegiac ‘Glade’ before methodically introducing the title track, a loosely strungtogether group piece bejewelled by dazzling improvisatory moments, a rolling drum tide propelling ebb and flow. It’s a great track and that’s just for starters… Whatever’s begun here is already unstoppable. (Tony Benjamin) HHHHH www. josharcoleo.com/
‘Silent Tides’ (EP, self-released) // This is Silent Tides’ debut EP and, as such, serves as a calling card for a band who – straight out the box – are massively adequate. An act fuelled, moreover, by playing technique boasting industrialstrength competence. If you didn’t catch Radiohead’s ‘The Bends’ just 17 short years ago – nor any of the thousand cast-offs directly inspired by it – you might even find the desperately pleading vocals, songs called things like ‘Black And Grey’, and spacey-guitarinto-thumping-big-drumbacked-crescendos downright exciting. On the other hand, if you did, you might just be longing to hear a band make their own sound, not – yet again – remake someone else’s. (Julian Owen) HHHHH www. silenttides.bandcamp.com
‘The Pines’ (Album, Naim Edge) // The title could’ve been swiped from a new-build cul-de-sac, but Phantom Limb’s sophomore release is anything but suburban. This is music for big skies, whisky and wide horizons. Pristine production, immaculate musicianship – lap steel, banjo, silvery organ, Yolanda Quartey’s voice a mountain of molasses, towering and tender by turns. In short, everything you’d expect from Phantom Limb. Resting on their laurels? There are no surprises here, no great leaps into the compositional unknown, but ‘The Pines’ is a heartfelt, effortlessly accomplished mood piece, drawing deep on the great traditions of soul, gospel, country and vintage R&B. Like a Zippo, a Harley or an old Rolls Royce, everything’s solid, dependable, well-built. (Mike White) HHHHH phantomlimbmusic.com
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Sound : Lighting : Staging Hire : Sales : Installations : Repairs Parties • Festivals • Weddings • Corporate tel 0845 224 5967 || 07812 111 646 web www.bes-systems.co.uk email email@example.com
56 // february 2012
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// don't miss // Benjamin Francis Leftwich
// ROOTS A singersongwriter who takes his cues from the poignant intimacy of Ryan Adams whilst channelling early Coldplay. BENJAMIN FRANCIS LEFTWICH TUE 21 FEB, KOMEDIA, BATH
// ROCK They’ve been silent on the album front since 2008, apparently because they’re “tired of bumming you guys out. We’re trying to write something happy.” Anyone who’s tasted their own beating heart whilst singing along too violently at one of their shows will hope this isn’t true, but there’s only one way to find out.
the big gig
First Aid Kit Mike White knifes through niceness to find darkness in the doe-eyed folk duo. // Do First Aid Kit sound too nice? You know, nice like Norah Jones. Nice like Katie Melua; all life’s sinister complexity polished away. First glimpse augers well. They’re a distinctive pairing, Johanna and Klara Söderberg, an elfin sister-sister folk duo, their voices reedy-strong and countrified, their influences Johnny Cash, Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris; they wear ponchos without irony. Though raised in suburban Stockholm, their palette’s a dusty western sunset. A YouTubed cover of the Fleet Foxes’ ‘Tiger Mountain Peasant Song’ scored them their first radioplay and found them swiftly signed to The Knife’s Rabid Records imprint. Since then, they’ve gigged with the Foxes themselves and hit the road Stateside with brooding Scando-poptart Lykke Li. When he caught them live in Nashville, HRH Jack White asked them to cut a single (a cover of Buffy Sainte-Marie’s anti-war lament ‘Universal Soldier’) for his Third Man Records label. Everyone, it seems, wants to get with the Kit. Their first album, 2010’s ‘The Big Black
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and the Blue’, was an unadorned marriage of the sister’s spirited harmonies and the comforting fretsong of an acoustic guitar. Their next is bolder, both by name (‘The Lion’s Roar’, released 23 Jan) and by nature. It was recorded in the cool of springtime Nebraska, with Bright Eyes stalwart Mike Mogis at the production desk, overseeing a campfirewarmed band including the girls’ bass playing father Benkt, Bright Eyes’ trumpet/ keyboard man Nate Walcott and a posse of Omaha-based musicians drafted in to round out the sound. Listen close to the final track ‘King of the World’ and you’ll hear the Felice Brothers, “just passing through town during the session”, and alt-folk poster boy Conor Oberst, ladling his signature bittersweet yearning over the last verse. And you know what? It does sound nice. But it’s a niceness cut through by honesty, given grip by lyrics laden with nostalgia, fear, ghosts and storms. Nice, but not too nice. FIRST AID KIT PLAY THEKLA, BRISTOL ON WED 29 FEB. FFI: WWW.THEKLABRISTOL.CO.UK
BRAND NEW WED 8 FEB, O2 ACADEMY, BRISTOL
// ROCK The horror punks recently released their first album of original material in over a decade. Aggressive and polarising as ever. MISFITS MON 6 FEB, THE FLEECE, BRISTOL
Matthew Schellhorn // CLASSICAL Bach isn’t the only composer in town as Bath ‘gets the bird’ with a Messiaen-indebted piano recital by Matthew Schellhorn (pictured). Alongside works by Emmanuel, Murail and Harvey, the UK premiere of David Bruce’s ‘The Shadow of the Blackbird’ takes wing. MATTHEW SCHELLHORN WED 29 FEB, TIPPETT CENTRE, BATH
Sambasunda Quintet // WORLD Having given traditional Indonesian gamelan music a surprisingly contemporary sound, this offshoot of Javanese big band Sambasunda makes cool urban ambient songs with traditional acoustic instruments. SAMBASUNDA QUINTET THUR 9 FEB, COLSTON HALL 2, BRISTOL
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For more reviews and extra pics, see venue.co.uk/music
Bristol Acoustic Music Festival
St George’s Bristol (Fri 13-Sun 15 Jan)
// Who'da thunk it: some folk are dancing – dancing – at this ostensibly sleepy, bums-on-seats affair. But there they are, a couple at the front, blithely shaking their fundaments. If you guessed the Bristol Acoustic Music Festival was a buttoneddown, sandal-brigade set-up, guess again. Over the weekend we're exposed to a rich vein of Bristolian music, not all mellow: some jazz, blues, folk and even a festival first – rapping. If the weekend's proceedings are
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bannered as an acoustic event, nobody told The Trish Brown Band. They're plugged in, saucy, swinging. Frontwoman Trish (pictured) smoulders in a power-red wrap around, her almost-scatted vox running smooth against the band's kinetic, neo-soul vibrations. Danielle Celeste sashays on stage and thrums woe-is-me, ex-boyfriend-baiting weepies to snooze to. Her voice is crisp, though, at times soaring with note-nailing falsetto, and imagining how great she'd be
in five to ten years is enough to alert your goosebumps. Meanwhile, Benny Sensus are the ultimate ‘Britain's Got Talent’ band. They're fresh-faced, talented, marketable, blending crowd-wowing fret dexterity with rap and white-boy soul melodies. They draw from Ed Sheeran's shtick, except with dazzlingly executed finger-style riffery tempered by pastoral, chamber-music classicism. One highlight: a bouncy, up-stroking cover of The xx's ‘Crystalised’. (Jamie Skey)
1/25/2012 3:31:35 PM
LIVE REVIEW Howler/Man Made Louisiana (Mon 23 Jan)
LIVE REVIEW M83 Trinity Centre, Bristol (Tue 17 Jan) // Tonight, any attempt to identify a song by its intro quickly regresses into a game of cheapest reductive jab. “Poor man’s Gang Gang Dance!” “Instrumental Vampire Weekend!” “You know when you put your Tears for Fears records on at the wrong speed...?” To recreate this game at home: play the album through your phone (for the full experience: put your heating on full blast; hastily flick the light on and off). Sever their high fidelity and M83 fizzle out in a constant fit of pulpy synth arpeggios that swell often in volume but seldom in feeling. It’s a curse of their perfectionism, having an album – a back catalogue – relying
so heavily on texture, that shoegaze-influenced dance music (or vice versa) can quickly turn into an 80s high school prom slow dance with the hyperactive kid working the volume knob. There’s a memorable moment amongst the refuse but it’s a disappointingly predictable one, in the form of the inevitable soundtrack to all future Olympics finishing line montages, ‘Midnight City’. It’s the creaky, high-pitched, distorted vocal hook - catchy and aching in the perfect ratio to induce joyous spells of vertigo that lifts the song to the level of seriously indisputable highlight: a signifier of a show hardly worth remembering. (Leah Pritchard)
LIVE REVIEW Sir Henry at Rawlinson End St George’s, Bristol (Thur 19 Jan) // ‘Sir Henry’ distilled and squandered the late Viv Stanshall’s warped Englishness into a Rabelaisian torrent of vulgarity, satire and schoolboy scatology beguilingly delivered in his faultless BBC diction, made even more monstrous by Trevor Howard’s film performance. Mike Livesley is up against it, then, in enacting the whole grotesque cast himself, with only a shambolic, cobweb-strewn band, a big armchair and a few hats in front of an audience that looks as though it already knows (and loves) every word. It’s a confidence trick, of course, and happily he doesn’t falter even when he falters, gliding through the occasional
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rare stumble with Sir Henry’s own blithe disregard. Looking (and at times sounding) like leftovers from a long-forgotten wedding, the band chirrup and chime on ukulele, fiddle, clarinet and even a length of whirling hosepipe, providing jazz-age link music and accompanying songs like ‘How Nice To Be In England, Now That England’s Here’ with reluctant aplomb. It’s glorious stuff, loved by the audience, and only marred by the sound quality (St George’s doesn’t need that much amplification). But even that seems appropriately part of the shambles and a small price to pay for once again basking in Stanshall’s ignobly patriotic worldview. (Tony Benjamin)
// Support act Man Made arrives on stage wearing the kind of gold sequin jacket that wouldn’t look amiss on a Butlin's bingo caller, itself a perfect contradictory statement to the sombre 45minute set which follows. One man and an electric guitar is a bold move and it works for the most part. Gorgeous, aching riffs combined with some wonderful, if morose, lyricism channelling R.E.M and Placebo in one fell swoop. The nagging, if obvious, feeling though is that it would work so much better with a full band. Anyway, here they are then. The new saviours of rock and roll (see also The Drums, The Vaccines etc etc). Howler (pictured) come with a lot of hyped-up luggage – signed to the seminal Rough Trade label, endlessly compared
to the Strokes – but by the way they unceremoniously saunter onto stage and steam into the opening track, the weight of expectation is a help rather than a hindrance. And the music is beautifully unadulterated rock. Sometime’s scuzzy, sometimes surfy but always sublime: the noise limiter in the Louis twitches nervously on red as they maraud their way through the majority of new album ‘America Give Up’. The album is good, the live show spectacular, they may just be worthy of the hype. Are they the most important band around at the moment? Maybe, maybe not. But they come as close as is possible to reinvigorate the stolid rock scene. If this is the first step on the ladder, it must be a small ladder; they’re more or less at the top already. (Stuart Roberts)
LIVE REVIEW Nigel Kennedy/Orchestra of Life Colston Hall (Wed 18 Jan) // Telephone-hold to elevator music, ‘The Four Seasons’ are part of the aural wallpaper, but they’ve lost none of their pulling power. Despite ticket prices starting north of where the BSO leaves off, the Colston Hall was rammed. But then this was no ordinary trot through Vivaldi’s enhanced weather report. The Berlin Phil never warmed-up offstage with chants of ‘Oggy, Oggy, Oggy, Oi, Oi, Oi’; Nigel Kennedy however is never going to let you forget his penchant for the ‘beautiful game’ – and in a game of two halves, the first unveiled his own response to ‘The Four Seasons’: a promiscuous ‘Four Elements’ (reduced here to three for reasons of time). With a line-up augmenting strings with vocals,
percussion, keyboards and the marimba/vibes of the wonderful Orphy Robinson, the ‘Elements’ mixed Celtic mist with Balkan sultriness, knowing nods to airborne Vaughan Williams and watery Debussy, wide-eyed whimsy and pile-driving pizzazz. But it added up to less than the sum of its parts, too often falling back on anodyne ‘noodling’. Vivaldi had been treated to ‘The Kennedy Rewrite’. By turn clever or irritating, charming (really!) or grotesque, fun or deadly, guileless or pretentious, it went down a storm with the fans. Accompanied by winsome piano, Spring’s slow movement dived into a cocktail bar; by the time Summer was sliding over the yardarm, unable to square the contradictions, I followed suit! (Paul Riley).
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1/25/2012 3:32:43 PM
1/25/2012 12:30:37 PM
Clubs Act of Genius
For more news, reviews and extra pics, see venue.co.uk/clubs
Ed Oliver hails the return of the GZA.
s a founding member of the WuTang Clan, Gary Grice is regarded by his band mates as their spiritual leader, hailed by fans as one of the greatest hip-hop lyricists of all time and lauded by many critics as the most successful of the Wu’s solo achievers for his acclaimed 1995 album ‘Liquid Swords’. Just over three years since his last Bristol appearance, the GZA returns to the 02 Academy on 18 Feb for the final leg in a string of seven UK tour dates showcasing material old and, hopefully, new. His long-anticipated seventh album ‘Liquid Swords 2: Return Of The Shadowboxer’ has been scheduled for release in 2012, but is the subject of much speculation and secrecy; a Twitter announcement made by The Genius in April 2010 suggested that the album was underway, but confusion followed when a later statement claimed it would be postponed in favour of a different project with a “visual and audio element”. Nearly two years on, details remain shady, but the RZA is believed to be taking full control of production duties on ‘Liquid Swords 2’. His contribution to its 1995 predecessor was flawless and imperative to the album’s dynamic, layering GZA’s hard-edged storytelling and rapier, metaphorical wordplay over beats that balance uncompromising rawness with haunting melodies and sinister kung-fu narrative. Those present for his previous visit to Bristol will attest that GZA’s live performance lacks the aggression of Ghostface Killah
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or the rugged vigour of Method Man, but for good reason. His flow is smoother and more considered, lending itself to the complexities of his lyrics, whilst his stage presence commands reverence and respect, as opposed to the neck-snapping energy other Clan members derive. A wise, omnipotent force on stage, it’s easy to see why he has become known as ‘the Head’. As Raekwon observes on the intermission of ‘Can It Be All So Simple’ from ‘Enter The Wu Tang (36 Chambers)’: “and the GZA, The Genius is just the Genius. He’s the backbone of the whole joint.” The anticipation surrounding a forthcoming album and his notable absence on last year’s Wu-Tang release ‘Legendary Weapons’ has left fans hungry for new material from The Genius, but rest assured, those
attending the Bristol show will not be disappointed if fresh meat is not on the table. Classics from ‘Liquid Swords’ are a given, along with a potential wealth of vintage from the Wu vaults and his solo ventures in the years since. 2008’s ‘ProTools’ demonstrated this was a rapper who had not lost of any of his refined lyrical precision. Promoters Rhyme & Reason should be applauded not only for securing such an impressive headline booking, but also for an undeniably hefty support bill. UK scene legends Rodney P and Skitz bring their tried and tested double act, alongside Bristol favourite Buggsy, local duo Split Prophets, four-piece band The Scribes and DJ Fingerfood. GZA PLAYS THE 02 ACADEMY, BRISTOL ON SAT 18 FEB. FFI: WWW. O2ACADEMYBRISTOL.CO.UK
GZA: one of the greatest hip-hop lyricists of all time
// NEWS // Dutty calls… The return of Lakota... // Assuming you’ve left the house at some point in the last decade, you’ve probably come across the systemrocking Dutty Girl collective, whether it was at Carnival, Brisfest, Shambala or one of their own nights. Well, now they’ve released a mixtape – the winningly named ‘Call of Dutty’ – so you can enjoy their unstoppable blend of hip-hop, grime, jungle and dancehall at home. Expertly mixed by Dutty Girl founder Diss Miss and Ruffneck Ting legend Dazee, it brings together anthems like Joker’s ‘Lost’ and Bashmore’s ‘Battle For Middle You’ with infectious originals such as ‘Curiosity’ and ‘Sweet Little Lies’. The mixtape also features Central Spillz member Koast and (blink and you’ll miss him) Buggsy alongside regular crew members DJ Safesoul, singer Klair and MCs Sarah B and Kash Honey. Grab a copy at Shop Dutty on Cheltenham Road or download it for free at soundcloud.com/duttygirl. Meanwhile, you can catch the collective in full flow at Dutty Bass on 10 Feb at The Bank of Stokes Croft. This month Lakota returns after a stop-start 2011 that culminated in its licence being suspended for three months from November. Marti Burgess, who ran the club in its 90s glory days, has returned to the helm, installing new management and security and a brand new soundsystem. As well as a big old launch party on Sat 11 (see p.66), this month sees nights from Hotflush Recordings (Fri 10: see p.67), Jungle Syndicate (Sat 18) and Tribe of Frog (Sat 25 Feb) – a fine start to what will hopefully be a much happier year for the iconic club.
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Clubs // THE MONTH AHEAD //
JUST JACK Maya Jane Coles, Joy Orbison & more
DIRTYTALK A Love From Outer Space
// Even by Just Jack’s famously high standards, this is huge. For this, their sixth birthday session, they’ve put together a dream line-up – Joy Orbison, Jef K, Ben UFO, Trouble Vision, Matt Tolfrey – that’s seemingly made up entirely of potential headliners. If that wasn’t enough, the actual bill-topper is Maya Jane Coles (pictured) – one of the fastest-growing names in British house music, who bagged both DJ magazine’s Producer of the Year and Mixmag’s Breakthrough DJ awards for 2011, as well as earning herself a symbolic midnight slot at Fabric on New Year’s Eve. Don’t miss. JUST JACK MOTION, BRISTOL, SAT 4 FEB. FFI: HTTP://MOTIONBRISTOL.COM/
LAKOTA PRESENTS… It’s A Bristol Ting
3. IDLE HANDS & QU JUNKTIONS Ital & Livity Sound // Experimental house producer Ital (pictured) – the dancefloor alias of Washington DC polymath Daniel MartinMcCormick – is set to release his (really quite wonderful) debut album ‘Hive Mind’ this month. His visit to Stokes Croft is a must for fans of imaginative, off-kilter dance music, and support comes from Livity Sound, a joint venture from Bristol bass luminaries Peverelist, Kowton and Asusu, who make their live debut tonight. IDLE HANDS & QU JUNKTIONS TAKE 5 CAFE, BRISTOL, FRI 10 FEB. FFI: HTTP:// QUJUNKTIONS.COM/
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// Bristol’s original superclub reopens this month, and how better to announce its return than with this sprawling, eclectic, heavyweight re-launch party? Out-of-town guests include jungle pioneers Congo Natty, breakbeat aces The Freestylers and Mark Archer of chartbusting 90s ravers Altern-8, but it’s Bristol’s unique urban dance culture itself that’s really being celebrated here, with turns from city stalwarts DJ Die, Queen B, Daddy G (pictured), Dr Meaker, Laid Blak, Mr Lingo and more. LAKOTA PRESENTS… LAKOTA, BRISTOL, SAT 11 FEB. FFI: WWW.LAKOTA.CO.UK
// From his stint at seminal acid house club Shoom to his groundbreaking production work with Sabres of Paradise, Two Lone Swordsmen and Primal Scream, it would be hard to overstate Andrew Weatherall’s (pictured) role in the last three decades of British music. He recently joined forces with future disco hero Sean Johnston (Hardway Bros) for A Love From Outer Space at The Drop in London, and they’re in Bristol this month for a five-hour DJ session. Described by Weatherall as “an oasis of slowness in a world of increasing velocity”: expect smacked-out disco, industrial dub, vintage synth obscurities and mid-paced freakiness of every description. DIRTYTALK TB2, BRISTOL, SAT 4 FEB. FFI: HTTP://WWW.TB2.CO.UK
5. START THE BUS Contraband Sessions // New monthly session combining live street art from the Weapon of Choice collective, with Contraband’s signature mix of MCs, block party vibes, and crate-raiding funk and hip-hop selections courtesy of DJ Skint. If you miss this one for some reason, it will be back on the second Thursday of the month for the foreseeable future. CONTRABAND SESSIONS START THE BUS, BRISTOL, FRI 17 FEB. FFI: STARTTHEBUS.TV
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TB2 Ben Klock // If Detroit is techno’s spiritual home, Berlin is its seat of empire, and Ben Klock is one of that city’s most revered figureheads. As resident DJ at uber-club Berghain since 2005, his DJ sets and productions have played a key role in revitalising techno – updating the 90s sounds of Jeff Mills and Basic Channel with influences from dubstep and house. The result is a forceful, uncompromising but irresistible take on the genre that is sure to thrill purists and big-room hedonists alike. For more on this night see www.venue.co.uk/clubs BEN KLOCK TB2, BRISTOL, FRI 17 FEB. FFI: HTTP://WWW.TB2.CO.UK
// London’s much-loved bashment party returns to melt away the winter blues with its signature mix of tropical soundsystem fare. Bringing the carnival vibes are Jamaican-born grime and dancehall MC Stylo G (pictured) and UK garage legend Sticky, plus residents The Heatwave, Kelvin 313 and more. Don’t forget your whistle.
You’ve got to hand it to Lakota. If you’re planning to re-boot a 20-year-old nightclub, booking Hotflush Recordings to test your new soundsystem is a pretty clear statement of intent. Hotflush is one of the most revered labels in the UK, and rightly so – they’ve remained ahead of the curve from early dubstep classics like Search & Destroy’s ‘Candy Floss’ through to Joy Orbison’s all-conquering ‘Hyph Mngo’ and beyond. With talents like Mount Kimbie, Boxcutter, Untold and Boddika also on their books, any label selection would be worth stepping out for, but if one name rises above them all, it’s label chief Paul Rose, otherwise known as Scuba (pictured). Most of today’s DJs make tracks and most producers can mix, but very few are as gifted at both as Scuba is. While he made his name with an arresting fusion of dubstep and techno that was the definition of cutting edge back in 2007, his work also has the timeless quality of the very best electronica. With their exquisite melodies and immersive textures, his ‘A Mutual Antipathy’ and ‘Triangulation’ both rank among the top tier of dubsteprelated albums alongside artists like Kode 9, Burial, Vex’d and Zomby. He’s also one of the most thrilling DJs on the circuit, with sets that can vary wildly in tempo – often building from near ambience to fierce percussive work-outs and moments of sublime, hands-in-the-air beauty. Check out his ‘Sub:stance’ and ‘DJ Kicks’ mixes if you’re not convinced. Also on the bill is Hotflush mainstay Sigha, who continues to move away from anything resembling a UK bass sound towards clean, intricate techno, and George FitzGerald, whose lush, sensuous ‘We Bilateral’ was a highlight of last year’s essential label compilation ‘Back And 4th’.
HOT WUK TRINITY CENTRE, BRISTOL, SAT 18 FEB. FFI: WWW.THEHEATWAVE.CO.UK/ HOTWUK.HTML
INFLUX PRESENTS HOTFLUSH RECORDINGS IS AT LAKOTA ON FRI 10 FEB. FFI: WWW.LAKOTA.CO.UK; WWW. HOTFLUSHRECORDINGS.COM
MOTION Funk From The Trunk XXL // One of Bristol’s finest DJ collectives they most certainly are, but Funk From The Trunk (aka Mr Lingo, Powercut, Ewan Hoozami and Vallee) are party starters first and foremost, and this one-off special at Motion ought to be a crowd pleaser. Guests include unflinchingly daft rap-swing duo The Correspondents, party breaks legend Krafty Kuts and head-spinningly eclectic four-deck alchemists The Nextmen (pictured), plus rising star Featurecast and Bristol’s much-loved superannuated reggae selector DJ Derek. FUNK FROM THE TRUNK XXL MOTION, BRISTOL, SAT 18 FEB. FFI: WWW. MOTIONBRISTOL.COM
DEEPBEAT Grievous Angel
8. HOT WUK Stylo G, The Heatwave & Sticky
Scuba: submerge yourself in the man's many talents
// We first got excited about Grievous Angel on hearing his first ‘Devotional Dubz’ mixtape back in 2008. While initially associated with dubstep, he’s one of the most versatile and talented DJs on the circuit, having proven his skills across a range of styles including 2-step, future garage, jungle, techno, post-punk, grime and reggae. With that in mind, it’s hard to predict what he’ll play on any given night, but an expert selection and creative approach in the mix are guaranteed. If you won’t take our word for it, check out the masses of free-to-download mixes on his blog. DEEPBEAT COSIES, BRISTOL, SAT 25 FEB. FFI: HTTP://BLOG.GRIEVOUSANGEL.NET
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THEATRE / DANCE / LIVE ART
// THE MONTH AHEAD // THEATRE Thirsty
// Fringe theatre favourites The Paper Birds tour their acclaimed show that draws on our nation’s love affair with alcohol. ‘Thirsty’ is a cocktail (sorry) of stories, memories and booze-based confessions, collected from a ‘drunken hotline’ and an online questionnaire, and blends (sorry) live music, spoken word and physical theatre as it explores our troubled relationship with the demon drink. Hic.
2. THEATRE High Fidelity
THIRSTY IS AT THE USTINOV, BATH ON SAT 4 FEB. FFI: WWW.THEATREROYAL.ORG.UK
THEATRE My Favourite Summer // A prompt return for Rondo favourites Reform Theatre, masters of the John Godber school of realist comedy. The title of Nick Lane’s comedy is somewhat ironic, for in fact protagonist Dave is having a pretty forgettable summer: a month working alongside a nutcase called Melvin in the summer job from hell, while trying to save money to take the girl he loves away on holiday with him before she disappears out of his life forever. Wry laughs galore will ensue. MY FAVOURITE SUMMER IS AT THE RONDO THEATRE, BATH ON TUE 14 FEB. FFI: WWW.RONDOTHEATRE.CO.UK
4. THEATRE Bound // Bear Trap Theatre spin their multi-award-winning yarn of six trawlermen from Devon as they embark on one final voyage. Compelled by the threat of bankruptcy, fishing trawler The Violet is forced out into treacherous weather, where the men must battle against each other’s egos, their lives ashore and a relentless storm. BOUND IS AT BRISTOL OLD VIC STUDIO FROM THUR 23-SAT 25 FEB. FFI: WWW.BRISTOLOLDVIC.ORG.UK
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// Bristol-based non-pros TheatreWorx present the UK premiere of this musical, drawing on Nick Hornby’s bestseller novel about musical obsession – and, rather more so, on the John Cusack/Jack Black-starring US movie version. Rob’s passion for music eclipses his passion for his girlfriend Laura – but it’s only when she, inevitably, flees the nest that Rob realises that the power of love is sometimes stronger (steady on…) than the power of music. HIGH FIDELITY IS AT THE OLYMPUS THEATRE, FILTON, BRISTOL FROM TUE 14-SAT 18 FEB. FFI: 01454 773673 OR VIA WWW. THEATREWORX.NET
MUSICAL Blood Brothers // Another tour for Willy Russell’s (‘Educating Rita’) 1983 ‘Liverpudlian folk opera’. Hard-up Scouse mum Mrs Johnstone finds herself pregnant with twins and unable to keep them both, with an absent father and the welfare knocking at the door. She decides to give one to her childless employer Mrs Lyons, who promptly sacks her so she can never see the baby again. The twins grow up in very different worlds – but a meeting is always on the cards… BLOOD BROTHERS IS AT BRISTOL HIPPODROME FROM MON 20 FEB-SAT 3 MAR. FFI: WWW.BRISTOLHIPPODROME.ORG.UK
1/24/2012 3:48:21 PM
Going out this month? see venue.co.uk - the new home of Venue’s what’s on listings
THEATRE The King’s Speech
6. MUSICAL The Decent Rogues // Fledgling local troupe Music is Life reprise their debut musical, which tells the tale of two well-respected members of Edwardian village life – who also happen to be gentlemen crooks. Shadowed by their sinister nemesis who has sworn revenge on them, the Rogues plan one final crime – with disastrous consequences. THE DECENT ROGUES IS AT THE MISSION THEATRE, BATH FROM WED 15-SAT 18 FEB. FFI: WWW.MISSIONTHEATRE.CO.UK
// The prolific (this’ll be play number 75) Alan Ayckbourn is back, and this time his thoughts have turned to civil disobedience. Martin and Hilda, newcomers on the deprived Bluebell Hill estate, have only the best intentions for their neighbourhood watch scheme. Soon, though, their well-meaning plans become something more sinister. NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH IS AT THEATRE ROYAL BATH FROM MON 13-SAT 18 FEB. FFI: WWW.THEATREROYAL.ORG.UK
MUSICAL COMEDY Avenue Q // A quick return, after its three-week run this time last year, for the Tony Award-winning musical comedy. Witty, high-octane and defiantly non-PC, the show follows the adventures of a cast of humans and puppets living on the same New York street, and tackles subjects such as dating, racism, being gay and, yessir, finding your purpose in life. AVENUE Q IS AT THEATRE ROYAL BATH FROM TUE 31 JAN-SUN 5 FEB. FFI: WWW.THEATREROYAL.ORG.UK
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THE KING’S SPEECH IS AT THEATRE ROYAL BATH FROM MON 20-SAT 25 FEB. FFI: WWW. THEATREROYAL.ORG.UK
THEATRE Neighbourhood Watch
// World premiere of the play that spawned last year’s blockbuster celluloid creation, about a reluctant monarch, a debilitating speech impediment and the bluff, plain-talking Aussie speech therapist who averted a national crisis. Charles Edwards, a stalwart of Peter Hall’s TRB seasons, plays Bertie (or King George VI as he soon becomes), opposite RSC actor Jonathan Hyde as no-nonsense Antipodean Lionel Logue.
10. MULTIMEDIA Under Stokes Croft // Another outing for this “live graphic novel with stop-motion animation” conceived and performed by Bristol poet and MC Jack Dean. ‘USC’ follows a day in the life of central Bristol’s urban bohemia, culminating in the night of last April’s riots. Inspired by Dylan Thomas’s ‘Under Milk Wood’, a narrative poem exploring the innermost thoughts and dreams of the inhabitants of a small Welsh village, Dean ups the ante by using animations, music and video footage to bring life and colour to his tale. UNDER STOKES CROFT IS AT THE WARDROBE THEATRE, BRISTOL FROM TUE 5-SAT 9 FEB AND BURDALL’S YARD, 7A ANGLO TERRACE, BATH ON WED 22 FEB. FFI: WWW.WARDROBETHEATRE.COM AND WWW.BURDALLSYARD.ORG
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662011 // february 20121 subs ad.indd
venuemagazine 10/24/2011 7:53:49 PM
1/24/2012 12:56:16 PM
THEATRE / DANCE / LIVE ART
Lunar landing Love, death and age; masks, dance but no words. That’s Theatre Ad Infinitum’s highly praised ‘Translunar Paradise’. Steve Wright holds his tongue.
here’s so much the body can and does say, but we seldom realise this.” The speaker, George Mann of rising UK physical theatre troupe Theatre Ad Infinitum, knows a thing or two about using the human body to tell a story. For one thing, George and fellow TAD founder Nir Paldi both trained at Paris’s renowned Jacques Lecoq school for physical theatre, mime and movement. Putting this training into practice, TAD’s first two productions were one-man/ woman shows that told complex stories through movement. Their third piece adds masked theatre into the mix – and is undoubtedly their most complex and emotional outing yet. ‘Translunar Paradise’ tells the tale of William, an old man who, after the death of his beloved wife, escapes from his grief into a paradise of fantasy and past memories. Returning from beyond the grave, Rose revisits her widowed companion to perform one last act of love: to help him let go. The show is told entirely without words, instead
using movement, haunting music and masks. Performer/director Mann and Deborah Pugh play young lovers and also, thanks to those masks, their 80-year-old counterparts. The masks come on and off as the story shifts back and forth in time from the couple’s dance-led courtship through middle age to old age: and through it all, musician Kim Heron traverses the stage, playing the accordion, singing, and – notes one reviewer – “serving as a sort of omniscient facilitator, nudging this story of a happy, lasting marriage towards its inevitable conclusion”. The play won much acclaim at last year’s Edinburgh Festival (where it reduced Venue’s stonyhearted outgoing editor to tears): as The Guardian’s reviewer put it, “this is a show about loss and bereavement that is as much about mourning your own lost self as about the grief at the death of a long-term partner.” “It’s about many things: love, shared memory and loss and a relationship spanning 60 years,” Mann reflects. “William has recently lost his wife and instead of moving on he gets lost in past memories. His wife Rose, seeing
he is unable to let go, stays with him as a ghost and helps him come to terms with his loss. The story follows William and Rose as they share wonderful memories together – from their courting days in the 40s right through to their last days together. It’s a real rich tapestry of a life shared. “It’s about moving on and how, in order to move on, we have to come to terms with and be truly happy with the past. And it’s also about the gap between young and old. Age, like a mask, can obscure the fact a person was once young. We work without words, conveying this story through the body and music. The audience will be immersed in feeling, sensations and movements.” It’s been a red-letter year for Theatre Ad Infinitum, who have also toured their award-winning one-woman show ‘The Big Smoke’ and taken their extraordinary version of ‘The Odyssey’ to an international audience. With ‘Translunar…’, though, they confound expectations on different levels. “For one thing, we break the traditional ‘mould’ of combining masks with puppetry: our masks are handheld. Using masks helps to reveal both our younger and
PICS: aLEX BRENNER
The incredibly moving, wordless 'Translunar Paradise' uses masks and mime to weave its story
Performance Feature 977.indd 67
older selves, transporting us back and forth in time. It’s also one of very few plays to attempt to communicate complex themes and emotional content without text.” The play’s title comes from WB Yeats’s poem ‘The Tower’ (“That being dead, we rise/Dream and so create/Translunar paradise”). “I wanted to take Yeats’s character – a man embittered by loss and old age – and also myself on a journey that would help him to look more positively at life after death. “This paradox in people fascinates me. We can be both strong and weak at the same time, just as we can laugh and cry simultaneously, or even love and hate. I think this is represented by the masks in our piece – you can see the old man, but you can also see the young man wearing it – youth and old age sitting side by side, co-existing in the same space.” Mann has personal experience to bring to the subject – and a surprising take on death. “My experiences with death and grief have taught me that death is very much a part of life, and – though extremely difficult to deal with – is also a wonderful gift. My father was diagnosed with cancer five years ago and died in January this year. Following his diagnosis with lung cancer and his treatment, I found myself in and out of something like premature grief. But paradoxically, alongside this feeling, I also realised that each day of that five-year period was another day in which my father was still living; an opportunity to appreciate our relationship, sort out our differences, and to say goodbye.” TRANSLUNAR PARADISE IS AT BRISTOL OLD VIC STUDIO FROM TUE 7-SAT 11 FEB. FFI: WWW. BRISTOLOLDVIC.ORG.UK
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Performance PREVIEW Death’s Cabaret: A Love’s Story
CABARET // Difficult to classify, this – but no less alluring for it. The eclectic (everything from baroque to contemporary) Sacconi Quartet have previously graced BOV’s spontaneityfest The Bristol Jam, deconstructing Beethoven’s final string quartet with the help of the audience’s own emotional landscapes. Brilliant stuff, it were. And now, the Sacconis – BOV artists-in-residence – return, in a collaboration with cellist/singer/ actor Matthew Sharp, composer Stephen Deazley and writer Martin Riley, to tell us (via music and words, cabaret and concerto) the story of a love and its undoing. Or, if you will, a “groundbreaking new kind of concerto” that tells the story
of a man's search for truth, of his all-consuming love for a dangerous woman, and of the ultimate sacrifice. “It’s about a man who finds love and loses her,” Riley explains. His world begins to crumble a bit when the first criticism comes in and he starts to question himself. It’s about fear of death, of losing love, of losing yourself.” “Matthew had challenged us with the phrase ‘cabaret concerto’,” Riley goes on. “The show uses ideas from cabaret and storytelling… it’s Bardic, an ancient form. And when you dip into folk tales and fairy tales, you dip into the psyche, into fear, death, love, all of those proper human things.” Final word to Sharp himself: “It’s a marriage of two forms, a collision of a concerto with the grime and sensuality of cabaret. Lean, beautiful and very distinctive.” DEATH’S CABARET IS AT BRISTOL OLD VIC STUDIO ON TUE 21 & RG.UK
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PERFORMANCE // World premiere solo piece by performance-maker Katherina Radeva, who left Bulgaria to study at City of Bath College in 1999. Over the past decade, Radeva has devised a number of performance pieces: this, her first in Bath, takes audiences “on a journey through love, childhood and breaking free”. Begun as a response to the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Radeva’s show revisits her own memories of Bulgaria before and after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Using 200 small boxes and a microphone, the show jumps between three fragmented narratives – the stories of Jiji, a fictional popular TV presenter, a couple on the verge of breaking up, and the very first moments
The Secret Garden
Your Last Breath
68 // february 2012
THEATRE // Curious Directive devise theatre shows that bring together theatre and science, and their motto is: “We are curious about everything.” ‘Your Last Breath’, roughly their twentieth project in four short years, begins with the spectacle of a woman trapped under the ice. From there on in, the show fuses dance, dialogue, film projections and a live piano accompaniment as it weaves connections between four lives, unravelling as it goes “the landscapes of the heart and our own personal geographies”. There’s Christopher, who in 1876, leaves his young family behind to work in Norway, whose uncharted mountains he will map for the very first time. Fast forward to 1999, and the real-life story of radiologist Anna Bagenholm, who becomes a medical miracle after a skiing accident that sees her body temperature drop to 13.7C. Her body frozen and her heart stopped, Anna appears lifeless, but her doctors work successfully to resuscitate her for nine hours. Then there’s present-day Freija, who has just lost her father and travels to Norway to scatter his ashes; and
THEATRE / DANCE / LIVE ART
Nicholas who, in 2034, explains a breakthrough that saved his life as a boy, and that will change the face of medicine, whereby the human body can be ‘suspended in animation.’ Much praised by all who saw it at last year’s Edinburgh Festival, including this Telegraph reviewer: “The bright-white set evokes the snowy wastes of Norway: a chair, hung with a slip of fur, becomes a reindeer; a table suddenly becomes a mountain. But none of these physical and visual flourishes is to the detriment of the script, which contains moments of both humour and poignancy. An extremely intelligent, rewarding 70 minutes from a company destined for great things.” YOUR LAST BREATH IS AT THE USTINOV, BATH FROM THUR 9-SAT 11 FEB. FFI: WWW.THEATREROYAL.ORG.UK
THEATRE // Physical theatre troupe and Lecoq graduates Angel Exit Theatre, last at the Rondo with 2009’s smugglers’ yarn ‘Moonfleet’, return for another slice of visceral storytelling, this time in the shape of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s much-loved children’s novel (published a century ago this year), about a little girl who finds an overgrown paradise, full of secrets and discoveries, at the bottom of her uncle’s garden. The story’s set at Misselthwaite Manor, an imposing pile on the Yorkshire Moors where Mary Lennox, a somewhat haughty orphan, is sent to be cared for by her estranged uncle, the dry, hunchbacked Archibald. Since his wife died there 10 years previously, Uncle Archie has locked his walled rose garden, buried the key and retreated into his own grief. As the wind whistles around the mysterious manor, Mary battles with loneliness and encounters locked doors, a curious robin, a gruff gardener, and strange cries echoing through the house. A
of a little girl encountering the West. Explains Radeva: “It questions our perceptions of freedom, asking whether walls protect or expose us – and why we are so curious about what lies the other side.” FALLEN FRUIT - NOW HERE, NOW GONE IS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF BATH’S ICIA ARTS THEATRE ON SAT 11 FEB. FFI: WWW.BATH.AC.UK/ICIA
hidden key unlocks the secret garden – but what will it unlock in our lonely heroine? Angel Exit’s version will mix ensemble storytelling with physical theatre, live singing and an original soundtrack. Prepare to unlock the door to your own inner psyche… THE SECRET GARDEN IS AT THE RONDO THEATRE, BATH FROM FRI 10-SAT 11 FEB. FFI: WWW. RONDOTHEATRE.CO.UK
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Performance PREVIEW Centralia
THEATRE // Presenting the debut production by Superbolt Theatre, a multinational (Brit/ Norwegian/Swiss/Ecuadorian) company formed last year by four graduates of Paris’s Jacques Lecoq school of physical theatre. Their debut tells the extraordinary story of the town of Centralia, Pennsylvania – formerly a thriving mining town of some 2,000 souls before, in 1981, a mine fire that had been burning beneath the town since 1962 forced the eviction of almost all of its inhabitants. Some 10 residents continue to live in the ghost town, despite the efforts of Pennsylvania’s authorities to move them on: and it is to four of these 10 that Superbolt’s play is devoted.
Superbolt's story sees these four dogged Centralians telling the world their story via a mix of comedy, cabaret and physical theatre. There’s Patrick, the town priest, proud of his untarnished church, and Jennifer, who recalls the games her mother used to play with her, before she died of carbon monoxide poisoning. There’s Norman, whose wife left him rather than stay in Centralia, and Alister, who’s not so sure why he stayed. Said one reviewer from the play’s debut run in an east London tavern: “But for all the madcap silliness and zany musical numbers, the play never forgets the essential tragedy of Centralia. It’s there when the characters cheerfully describe their daily routine of checking the town’s threat level. It’s there in the relationships that have been lost. And it’s there in the essential human failure to grasp the inevitable.”
THEATRE / DANCE / LIVE ART
CENTRALIA IS AT THE WARDROBE THEATRE, BRISTOL FROM MON 20-FRI 24 FEB. FFI: WWW. THEWARDROBETHEATRE.COM AND WWW.SUPERBOLTTHEATRE.CO.UK
PREVIEW Love Box
PERFORMANCE POETRY // This month Word of Mouth, Bristol Old Vic’s hugely popular monthly spoken word event, hosts a poetry slam in honour of St Valentine, patron saint of all things soppy and heart-shaped. Two crack teams of highly skilled word-warriors will be pitting their similes against each other to decide whether love is a beautiful bond that gloriously unites our disparate souls or just an excuse to spend money on a tasteless card and a candlelit dinner at an overpriced restaurant. Which team will win your heart: the lovers or the cynics? In the lovers’ corner: Ben Mellor (R4 national poetry slam champion), Birmingham’s brightest lyrical rising star Jodi Ann Bickley, the cheeky, moustachioed and gold-hearted Jonny Fluffypunk, and Rachel Rose Reid, musicallyinspired UK storyteller of the year. In the cynics’ corner: Byron Vincent, splenetic sparrowkneed word monkey and R4 poetry talent of the year
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choice; rising Bristol star Anna Freeman; award-winning poet, rapper and knitwear advocate Adam Kammerling, and slam champ Vanessa Kissuule, much enjoyed by us at last September’s WoM: “A boardingschool educated middle-class black girl who don’t do street patois and refuses to drop her Ts… Standing there with her long dark fairytale hair, in a floral tea-dress with starched petticoats and penny loafers, she is a black Alice feeling her
way through a wonderland of cultural expectations… Literary, romantic, passionate and pleasingly old-school, she doesn’t shy away from big images or heartfelt themes, and succeeds in charming the socks off the audience.” So, are you a lover or a fighter? Grab your significant other and whizz along to WoM to find out. WORD OF MOUTH: LOVE BOX IS AT BRISTOL OLD VIC ON MON 13 FEB. FFI: WWW.BRISTOLOLDVIC.ORG.UK
PUPPETRY // A superb start to 2012 for the Tobacco Factory’s sibling theatre, The Brewery – which has so far hosted Julia Gwynne’s one-woman Tudor odyssey ‘Henry VIII and the Royal Wedding Planner’ and Fellswoop Theatre’s stage version of ‘Belleville Rendezvous’ – continues with this visit from one of UK puppetry’s leading lights. Blind Summit’s ‘The Table’ (already a Bristol sell-out, at last autumn’s Festival of Puppetry) is a near-wordless puppet tale that fuses Beckett’s dark humour with IKEA flat-pack technology. Billed as “a visual romp through French New Wave style and puppet existentialism”, ‘The Table’ examines the world from a puppet’s viewpoint. Its most eye-catching moments include a Japanese bunraku puppet preparing to perform the last 12 hours of Moses's life in real time; body parts taking on a life of their own in a series of picture frames; and a final sequence that unfurls a complex crime caper using only a suitcase and a few sheets of paper. THE TABLE IS AT THE BREWERY, BRISTOL FROM TUE 21-SAT 25 FEB. FFI: WWW. TOBACCOFACTORYTHEATRE.COM
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// THE MONTH AHEAD // RONDO Nathan Caton
// First Rondo visit for this engaging and steadily rising sketch comic and former Chortle Student Comic of the Year, who gave up his architecture degree to pursue a career in the funny business. “Caton opens a window into his personal and working life and creates an engaging and entertaining glance into his life and philosophies,” opined chortle.co.uk.
2. KOMEDIA Terry Alderton
NATHAN CATON PLAYS THE RONDO THEATRE, BATH ON THUR 16 FEB. FFI: WWW.RONDOTHEATRE.CO.UK
COMEDY BOX Jimmy McGhie
// Hugely engaging 20something comic looks in at the Comedy Box – on what may be the last time before he starts filling megadomes a la Russell Howard – for some more offcentre aperçus about modern life.
// Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee Alderton is an attention-grabbing physical comic with some very watchable impressions, sound effects and routines, all delivered with plenty of energy and given a unique twist by the ‘voices’ in his head. TERRY ALDERTON IS AT KOMEDIA, BATH ON THUR 2 FEB. FFI: WWW.KOMEDIA.CO.UK
JIMMY MCGHIE PLAYS THE COMEDY BOX, BRISTOL ON FRI 10 & SAT 11 FEB. FFI: WWW.THECOMEDYBOX.CO.UK
COMEDY BOX Alun Cochrane
PIC: ALEX BRENNER
// Return of the laconic, whimsical Yorkshireman, who has charmed us on two recent occasions with his rambling, littleboy-lost surrealism: “the real deal… he knows that less can be more and, with his soporific Yorkshire drawl and expressions of amused befuddlement, his tales of parenting and borderline obsessive-compulsive disorder were comedy balm.”
4. RIPROAR COMEDY Carly Smallman // Pick of February’s Saturday-night offerings at Riproar looks to be this one, featuring folksy, guitar-totin’ newcomer Carly Smallman. Three more comics still tbc: check website for updates. CARLY SMALLMAN AND OTHERS PLAY RIPROAR COMEDY AT THE CRESSWELL CENTRE, BRISTOL ON SAT 11 FEB. FFI: WWW. RIPROARCOMEDY.CO.UK
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ALUN COCHRANE IS AT THE COMEDY BOX, BRISTOL ON SAT 25 & SUN 26 FEB. FFI: WWW. THECOMEDYBOX.CO.UK
COLSTON HALL Reginald D. Hunter // Smooth, laidback Georgia comic returns to run his amiably jaundiced eye over the ironies and inconsistencies of modern race relations, gender politics, political correctness and much more. His commanding, room-filling demeanour may allow Hunter to cruise along at intervals, but two hours in his company should be illuminating as well as beguiling. REGINALD D. HUNTER VISITS THE COLSTON HALL, BRISTOL ON TUE 21 FEB. FFI: WWW.COLSTONHALL.ORG
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GALLERIES, MUSEUMS AND MORE
// THE MONTH AHEAD // ATHLETIC APPAREL Sport and Fashion
// Bath’s Fashion Museum gets its Olympic gear on with this exhibition tracing how historic sportswear has influenced contemporary designers. The exhibition features over 50 clothing ensembles, from the gold medal-winning outfit sported by Bath’s Amy Williams at the 2010 Winter Olympics to a gold’n’silver body suit by designer Pam Hogg. Pictured: Rugby Shirt Dress, by Gary Harvey. SPORT AND FASHION OPENS AT THE FASHION MUSEUM, BATH FROM 4 FEB. FFI: WWW.FASHIONMUSEUM.CO.UK
3. PHOTOGRAPHY Between Here and There // Group show by The Photographic Angle (TPA), featuring work by 12 snappers all exploring our relationship with place. Images include Derek Dewey-Leader’s photographs of almost unreachable spaces in the Grand Canyon, Catherine Johnson’s ethereal snapshots of life by the side of Thailand’s rivers and David Thomas Smith’s kaleidoscopic aerial photographs of remote industrial locations (‘1000 Chrysler Drive, Auburn Hills, MI, United States’, pictured). BETWEEN HERE AND THERE IS AT TOWER WHARF, CHEESE LANE, BRISTOL FROM 15-19 FEB, 10AM-3PM DAILY. FFI: WWW. THEPHOTOGRAPHICANGLE.CO.UK
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RETROSPECTIVE Margaret Gregory RWA // Retrospective for renowned poet, painter and RWA member (d. 2011), curated by her son, musician Will Gregory (Goldfrapp et al). Paintings and drawings, diaries, sketchbooks and poetry from the last three decades will hang alongside previously unshown pieces from the artist’s own collection, as well as remarkable pictures unearthed from her studio. Plus, on Sun 19 Feb at 7pm, Will curates a musical evening in his mum’s honour, featuring live performances of her favourite pieces, conducted by Charles Hazlewood. MARGARET GREGORY RWA: PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST IS AT THE ROYAL WEST OF ENGLAND ACADEMY, BRISTOL FROM 18 FEB-4 MAR. FFI: WWW.RWA.ORG.UK
4. PHOTOGRAPHING THE BODY Suspension // Bath Uni’s ICIA presents work by photographer and ex-gymnast Jo Longhurst, whose work ‘A-Z’ explores the human body via hundreds of editorial sports photographs mounted on individual blocks. Depicting the complex choreography of a gymnastics routine, the images draw on the artist’s preoccupation with social systems, power and control. JO LONGHURST: SUSPENSION IS AT ICIA ART SPACE 2, UNIVERSITY OF BATH FROM 13 FEB-4 MAY. FFI: WWW.BATH. AC.UK/ICIA
DELICATE DRAWINGS Rose Hilton
// Beautiful, sparse drawings by Cornish painter/ illustrator RH, demonstrating a fine eye for evoking shape and texture – especially of the human form – in a few spare strokes. ROSE HILTON: DRAWINGS IS AT HILTON FINE ART, BATH FROM 24 FEB-17 MAR. FFI: WWW.HILTONFINEART.COM
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STILL LIFE PHOTOGRAPHY: A HISTORY Art of Arrangement // Arresting exhibition tracing the evolution of still life photography, from its early 19th-century origins via the Surrealist experiments of Philippe Halsman and Salvador Dali (pictured) onto contemporary photographers such as Somerset’s Don McCullin, all the while tracing photography’s debts to painting and its development of often exotic and dark arrangements, full of symbolic depth and meaning. ART OF ARRANGEMENT: PHOTOGRAPHY AND THE STILL LIFE TRADITION IS AT THE HOLBURNE MUSEUM OF ART, BATH FROM 11 FEB-7 MAY. FFI: WWW.HOLBURNE.ORG
6. MASTER COLOURIST Gillian Ayres RA: works on paper
// Retrospective for this brilliant and renowned colourist and Abstract Expressionist, who taught at the Bath Academy of Art in the 1960s. Ayres, known for her big abstract compositions, boldcolour schemes and love of texture, has collaborated with local printmakers’ collective 107 Workshop to produce a series of limited editions (‘Dark Carnival’, 2003, pictured), on show and on sale alongside new paintings. GILLIAN AYRES RA: WORKS ON PAPER IS AT THE VICTORIA ART GALLERY, BATH FROM 11 FEB-21 MAR. FFI: WWW.
LOVELORN ART I ♥ Art // Handmade goodies including paper cuts by Rebecca Coles (‘Pi Story Part 1’, pictured) and Helen Musselwhite, original prints Trevor Price RE and Mychael Barratt and ceramics by Paul Smith. Plus 2D and 3D pieces by Dan Baldwin, a much-soughtafter artist who uses an eclectic slew of images to explore themes including innocence, beauty, vanity and decay. I ♥ ART IS AT ROSTRA & ROOKSMOOR GALLERIES, BATH FROM 2-29 FEB. FFI: WWW.ROSTRAGALLERY.CO.UK
LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY Barry Cawston
SOLO SHOW The Cookham Erratics // Second solo show at W|P for artist Andy Holden, who this time presents six knitted sculptures – enlarged replicas of small stones collected from Cookham, Berkshire, where Stanley Spencer painted his celebrated ‘Resurrection, Cookham’. From each of the six sculptures a voice recounts a fragmented narrative, ranging across geology, biography and art history. THE COOKHAM ERRATICS IS AT WORKS|PROJECTS, BRISTOL UNTIL 10 MAR. FFI: WWW. WORKSPROJECTS.CO.UK
// Studies of buildings and cityscapes by Bristol photographer, an invited artist at the RWA’s second Open Photography Competition last year. Cawston’s images are cinematic in approach and often have a sociological element which, coupled with a strong sense of composition, gives them a narrative or painterly quality. BARRY CAWSTON EXHIBITS AT BRISTOL FOLK HOUSE FROM 3 FEB-1 MAR. FFI: WWW.BRISTOLFOLKHOUSE.CO.UK
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// top ten //Teenage picks
If your kids are turning into teenagers this year, why not give them a helping hand with a few favourites chosen by Foyles bookshop’s eternal youths?
Coram Boy – Jamila Gavin (Egmont Books Ltd, £7.99) A recent big hit for Bristol Old Vic, Gavin’s historical novel won a Whitbread Children’s Book Award in 2000, and it’s easy to see why. A timeless tale of slavery, friendship and redemption.
retty bloody lump-in-throat astounding” might not be the most articulate or incisive way of describing it, but back in the summer of 2001, Bristol Old Vic and Bristol Museums pulled off what’s arguably the most spectacular and cleverly orchestrated piece of theatre the city’s ever seen. There we were, a jammed-in, sold-out crowd, sitting in a slightly draughty L Shed when the doors slid back and, bang on cue, a 200ft-long, 1,000-ton freighter pulled up to the quay outside and ACH Smith’s ‘Up The Feeder, Down The ’Mouth And Back Again’ switched from cosy, impressionistic docu-drama to full-on, industrial-strength epic, complete with working trains and cranes, and a supporting cast of 25 hurling crates, pallets and bananas around whilst giving voice to the show’s rousing musical numbers. Hence Venue’s “lump-in-throat astounding” review and Best Play of 2001 Top Banana gong. Not that that production of ‘Up The Feeder ...’ (an earlier version had made a more modest showing, indoors at BOV, four years previously) was simply about pulling off some ambitious theatrical stunts. There wouldn’t be much point in publishing – or, as now, republishing – the script if that was the case. Rather, this was a play grounded in the human story of the docks, the people who worked them and the people who experienced their unexpectedly rapid demise in the 1960s and 70s. And in writing it, ACH found himself talking to numerous former dockers, mariners and their families. “Once you start, it’s like that trick where you pull scarves from a hat – the more you pull, the more come out,” he told Venue shortly before the 2001 production opened. “You talk to Bert and he says ‘You ought to
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talk to Fred and Jim’, and they give you more names. You could go on forever. I ended up with 30 hours of tape. I looked at it all and thought ‘Where do I start?’. I wasn’t far off panic.” “It’s not a play with a major plotline,” he went on, “and in my more posey moments, I say it’s like an impressionist painting. It’s a series of wonderful little things, and when you look at it whole, you think ‘Oh, it’s a haystack’. To put it in crude terms, it’s about why Bristol’s here. I never wanted it to be a simple ‘memory lane’ play.” Posey and impressionistic or otherwise, the play contains fascinating individual anecdotes – such as the young-ish Bristolians who did ‘the pierhead jump’ (i.e. stowed away for exotic destinations and, hopefully, new lives) – as well as the wider story of the rise and demise of the city’s dock trade. As such, it’s both a fascinating historical portrait of the harbourside and a moving testament to the resilience and humanity of the people who lived and worked there. Given that, in these strapped-for-cash times, a theatrical revival on the scale of 2001’s alfresco feats seems unlikely, it’s good to see ACH’s book version making its way back into print, complete with plenty of photographs and illustrations. ‘UP THE FEEDER, DOWN THE MOUTH: THE LONG LIFE AND SUDDEN DEATH OF BRISTOL CITY DOCKS’ BY ACH SMITH IS PUBLISHED BY REDCLIFFE PRESS (£12.95). FFI:. HTTP:// REDCLIFFEPRESS.CO.UK/
THANKS ONCE AGAIN, TO THE FABULOUS FOYLES, 6 QUAKERS FRIARS, CABOT CIRCUS, BRISTOL, BS1 3BU, 0117 376 3975, WWW.FOYLES.CO.UK
Bristol’s Redcliffe Press is republishing the script of ACH Smith’s dockside drama ‘Up The Feeder ...’ this month. Tom Phillips recalls being in the front row.
His Dark Materials Trilogy – Philip Pullman (Scholastic boxset £21.97) This wildly inventive masterpiece is a joy for readers of all ages. Playing out across several parallel worlds, and with big philosophical and theological themes, the quality of Pullman’s writing and his superb characters ensure that this epic tale is nothing less than captivating throughout. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the NightTime – Mark Haddon (David Fickling Books, £7.99) With a title appropriated from a Sherlock Holmes mystery, Haddon’s instant classic is a detective story of sorts, as Christopher, a 15-year-old with Asperger’s, attempts to track down the killer of his neighbour’s dog. Compelling and eye-opening stuff. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins (Scholastic, £7.99) With a film adaptation just around the corner, what better time to get into this exciting post-apocalyptic trilogy that has been getting rave reviews from readers of all ages? Young Sherlock Holmes: Death Cloud – Andrew Lane (Pan Macmillan, £6.99) Any young readers who’ve enjoyed the BBC’s recent take on Sherlock Holmes might like to try Andrew Lane’s own twist on Conan Doyle’s ever-popular sleuth.
FOR GIRLS Little Women – Louisa May Alcott (Puffin Classics, £7.99) Follow the March sisters through a time when their father is at war, and their mother is doing her best to bring the sisters up. Laugh, cry, squabble, dance and fall in love along with the little women. Should be on a bookcase in every girl’s home. The Princess Diaries – Meg Cabot (Pan Macmillan, £5.99) Mia Thermopolis is a typical 14year-old, at high school with a very clever best friend and a mother who’s dating her algebra teacher. As if this isn’t enough, she’s also just been told by her dad that she’s the Princess of Genovia… Angus Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging – Louise Rennison (Harper Collins, £6.99) Very funny, very cringeworthy and very honest about teenage life. Georgia is our diary keeper, and this series is simply hilarious. She’s clumsy, confused and totally in love with a boy – it’s a shame that he hasn’t noticed her yet. Or has he? A perfect read for any girl. Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman (Random House, £6.99) “Heroes commit atrocities and villains make broken gestures of kindness.” This perfectly sums up this gripping novel. Focusing on how equality is good, and how racism isn’t an option, it brings out the best of two seemingly antagonistic worlds. An unusually difficult topic, tackled in an unusually good writing style. This Lullaby – Sarah Dessen (Hodder, £5.99) Remy has many rules when it comes to boys, but the ‘no musicians’ one is the most important. Now meet Dexter the musician and all-round charming guy. Remy’s mother is on her fifth marriage, her dad is no longer around and she’s just fallen for the guy who possesses every trait she’s ever disliked. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how compelling and gorgeous this novel is.
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family fun and trips away
Talk of the Taff Sometimes, if you live in Bristol and Bath, great as they are, you might just fancy a wee slice of city life further afield. Joe Spurgeon gives a firsttime tourist’s guide to Cardiff.
mazing what you can find slap bang in the centre of Cardiff. A castle. A prison. A stadium. Another stadium. A stone circle. A brilliant white Norwegian church. A massive stone
ant-eater. In fact, Wales’s bustling capital, with a population smaller than Bristol, is full of surprises. As one of Europe’s newest (1955) and – tour guides will tell you it’s the – fastestgrowing capital cities, you can trace its portside rise, fall and redevelopment much in the way you can Bristol’s, and an excellent way to orientate yourself and take in the always fascinating above-eyeline architecture is to kick off with one of those red City Sightseeing double decker bus tours (www.citysightseeing.com), where a 50-odd minute scoot round the main central zones gives you a solid intro to what’s where and why. The declining dockland industries, the renovated mud flats and the burgeoning, leafy white stone civic centre (home to the Welsh Assembly et al) are all worth returning to for deeper exploration. Trips clock in at £10/head, but you can hop on and off all day and tickets remain valid for two days. Back on ground level, the renamed, revamped Cardiff Bay area is populated by monuments to famous former sons and daughters (including Roald Dahl), a vast concrete plaza, the groundbreaking 19th-century Pierhead building (aka “Wales’s Big Ben”) and unquestionably the city’s most spectacular eye-catcher, the Millennium Centre (aka the Cycling Helmet, the Armadillo, the Turtle etc – pictured), which, preChristmas, is teeming with shoppers
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The glorious Wales Millennium Centre and, below, the boutiquey hideaway Jolyon's at No.10
CARDIFF: FIVE TO TICK-OFF CARDIFF CASTLE The 2,000-year-old castle has been a Roman garrison, a Norman stronghold, a gothic fairytale fantasy and a WWII military base. Cor. www.cardiffcastle.com MILLENNIUM CENTRE Y’know – the breathtaking threepronged arts venue with the big writing out front. www.wmc.org.uk PIERHEAD The unmistakable red brick clock tower and meeting house in the bay continues to “give voice to issues that matter to you as individuals, communities or organisations.” www.pierhead.org THE NORWEGIAN CHURCH A poignant picturesque reminder of Cardiff’s sea port past and affinity with Scandinavia. Now a stonking arts, music and food centre. www.norwegianchurchcardiff.com THE MILLENNIUM STADIUM Go on, walk in the footsteps of Wales’s sporting legends like Ryan Giggs and… er…
eyeing up the festive market as carol singers trill away. The Bay’s also swamped with chain bars and a drinking culture to rival any city’s, which may or may not be a (non-)sticking point, but is hardly surprising given Cardiff’s obvious pedigree and passion for all things sporty. The Millennium Stadium (tours cost £7.50 for adults, £4.95 for children), the mecca for such pursuits, might seem an odd thing to drop into the heart of any city, but plentiful satellite parking does ease traffic congestion. A cabbie might tell you different. Then there’s the multi-million pound monstrous International Sports Village, Cardiff City FC’s Ninian Park, the historic rugby ground Cardiff Arms Park (named after a pub, no less) and Sophia Gardens/SWALEC stadium for walking/cricket fans. No visit to Cardiff is complete
without a meander round the refashioned mock gothic (mothic?) Cardiff Castle either, a hugely elaborate Victorian eccentricity. Imagine the gaudiest MTV crib, then flush with added pimp. You can nose round from £11 (adults) and £8.50 (children). Culturally/arty-wise, Cardiff has a fistful of large-medium-scale venues with St David’s Hall hosting big league comedians, choral, orchestral and pop musicians (from Stephen Merchant to Erasure to the National Orchestra Of Wales) alongside the equally monstrous Motorpoint Arena, WMC (see below), the National Museum of Art and the West Endy New Theatre; then there’s the progressive leftfield Chapter arts centre boasting theatre, cinema and exhibition space as well as the student showings at the prestigious Welsh College of Music and Drama, touring work
by the National Theatre of Wales and Sherman Cymru (currently being refurbished). You’ll need at least a full weekend to “do” Cardiff properly and you can’t go far wrong resting your head on one of the pillows at Jolyon’s at No.10 (actually one of two in a mini-chain of boutique hotels in the city – pictured below) which offers comfortable, clean accommodation as well as a bar bursting with restored furniture, swept frames and plump upholstery. We enter through the bar (our mistake – the reception is signposted down the side of the building, but still) and the welcome’s a very warm one. The local staff will happily talk you through the world on your doorstep and advise on transport, the best bars and where to shop. The food’s basic in an upmarket gastropub kinda way, but you can’t argue with the expertly seasoned, eminently affordable Welsh burgers (£7.50), or super succulent chilli and lime tiger prawns (£4.45). Rooms start from £75/night for a small double which includes a full Welsh breakfast, fluffy bath robes, in-room tea- and coffee-making facilities and luxury bath products (with variable online discount available from www. jolyons10.com).
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family fun and trips away
White riot Did you have to sell your ski chalet this year? Fear not. Anna Britten shows you how to do winter sports without getting on a plane.
ew things compound the gloom of February more than hearing that your friends and neighbours are taking the family off to Breckenridge or Val d’Isère. Don’t be too piste off, though. Loads of winter sports can be enjoyed right here in the West Country without the need to pack a suitcase: we’ve got more dry ski slopes than you could shake a ski pole at, plus ice skating rinks and even some handsome mountainous regions (try the Brecon Beacons) that, if you’re lucky, may have a dusting of the white stuff on ’em at some point.
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No snow, no go? Nonsense - feel the Alpine fever, Avon-style
Avon Ski & Action Centre Home of the Avon Ski Club, this multiactivity centre invites you to ski, snowboard, toboggan and more (you can also abseil, power kite, drive 4x4s etc). Experienced skiers and snowboarders will appreciate the 165 metre main dry slope, complete with bends, moguls, bumps, jumps and a quarter pipe. They also specialise in tailormade family days though, and even little ones as young as four can toboggan and ski. Birthday coming up? You can have a brilliant winter sports children’s party here, too. Non-skiers can watch from the Alpine Chalet style bar area, where drinks and light snacks are available along with stunning views over Bristol Channel.
AVON SKI & ACTION CENTRE LYNCOMBE DRIVE, CHURCHILL, BRISTOL BS25 5PQ, TEL: 01934 852335, WEB: WWW.AVONSKI.CO.UK
Cardiff Ski & Snowboard Centre Let’s face it, aesthetically speaking, Cardiff’s winter fun spot is hardly Cortina d’Ampezzo. However, with a 100 metre ski slope, an overhead Poma ski lift, inflatable tubes, something called a lubrication roller, floodlights and kids’ clubs and lessons at weekends (including a taster lesson option on Sunday afternoons), this is a terrific Saturday afternoon option for those living a snowball’s throw from the bridge. CARDIFF SKI & SNOWBOARD CENTRE FAIRWATER RD, CARDIFF CF5 3JR, TEL: 029 2056 1793, WEB: WWW. SKICARDIFF.COM
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Show the love for Bristol Ice Rink, before its mooted closure becomes a reality
www.venue.co.uk/subs 0117 934 3741 SUBSCRIBE TO THE NEW MONTHLY VENUE – JUST £2.99
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Make mine a half
Gloucester Ski and Snowboard Centre Activities for the whole family, from skiing or snowboard coaching and recreational skiing/boarding or just whizzing downhill in an inflatable ring. This is one of the best outdoor artificial ski centres in the UK offering nursery slope, 220 metrelong main slope, mogul run, and a recently renovated fun park featuring softer Snowflex landing, grind rail, quarter pipes and kick ramps. A raft of children’s clubs, camps, academies and the like. Fully licensed Lodge, too, for some après-dry ski action. GLOUCESTER SKI & SNOWBOARD CENTRE ROBINSWOOD HILL, GLOUCESTER GL4 6EA, TEL: 01452 501438, WEB: WWW.GLOUCESTERSKI. COM
Pontypool Ski Centre Offers a whopping 230 metrelong main slope, a beginners’ area, mogul run and Poma and Briton ski lifts. A ski school offers instruction for all standards of skiing and snowboarding from the novice to the expert. Food and drink available at the nearby leisure centre. PONTYPOOL SKI CENTRE PONTYPOOL PARK, NR NEWPORT NP4 8AT, TEL: 01495 756955, WEB: HTTP:// TINYURL.COM/YGEYD4L
Bristol Ice Rink Show your support for a Bristol institution threatened with the wrecking ball. With developers hoping to convert it into student flats this autumn, a petition to save Bristol Ice Rink had attracted well over 3,000
Defenders of the waif // Tragic cases such as Baby P and Victoria Climbié thrust the social work profession into the media spotlight – and heaped considerable opprobrium upon it – but few of us understand the complexities behind its daily work. In an attempt to remedy this undeserved bad PR, child protection social workers from Bristol City Council have been involved in a riveting and highly moving three-part BBC2 documentary series ‘Protecting Our Children’ beginning Mon 30 Jan and running for three weeks. After
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years of negotiation with Bristol City Council, NHS Trusts, Family Courts and the police, producers spent a year following local child protection teams as they tackled drug abuse, neglect, housing conditions, mental health issues, emergency orders, fostering and adoption. The first episode ‘Damned If They Do, Damned If They Don’t’, sees a newly qualified social worker on her first job visiting a “low risk” family – the situation unexpectedly evolves into a court
signatures at the time of writing. Since 1966 this skating spot has entertained (and improved the cardiovascular capacities of) generations of children, teenagers, and adults with a Torvill & Dean fantasy, not to mention ice hockey teams and professionals such as Robin Cousins. There are lengthy public sessions for all types of skaters from 10am every day as well as disco sessions on Wed, Fri and Sat evenings, private and group lessons, and junior ice hockey, ice karting and synchronised skating clubs. Mums and dads can join in or hang out in the fully licensed Bridge Bar of cafeteria. BRISTOL ICE RINK FROGMORE ST, BRISTOL BS1 5NA, TEL: 0117 929 2148, WEB: WWW.JNLBRISTOL.CO.UK
case involving learning difficulties, unexplained bruises and the protection of an unborn baby. The remaining episodes involve parents whose lives are affected by homelessness, violence, drugs and alcohol, and the child protection teams’ attempts to help them and their children – some of them unborn. Said Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Cllr Clare Campion-Smith: “I hope that viewers will appreciate the portrayal of a subject that remains largely hidden from public view because of the sensitive and personal nature of the work.”
// Stuck for something to keep the juveniles occupied this half term (starts Sat 11, ends Sun 19 Feb)? Well, over at the ss Great Britain, only Mr Isambard Kingdom Brunel him-flaming-self will be in residence from Sat 11 to Sun 19 Feb (except Wed), stopping for photo opps and answering your questions about everything from the buoyancy of iron to what Britain’s greatest engineer keeps under that massive stovepipe hat. Ffi: www.ssgreatbritain.org Across the water in At-Bristol you can Make Your Own (Recycled) Robot, re-using everyday materials, during dropin sessions from 10am-5pm. Ffi: www.at-bristol.org.uk Finally, back by popular demand, Arnos Vale invites you take part in a one-hour Dinodiscovery session on Tue 14-Wed 15 Feb between 9.30am and 3.30pm. Become a dinosaur hunter and find fossils, solve puzzles, pick the brains of dinosaur experts and build a dinosaur. Booking is essential for this family activity run in conjunction with the Bristol Dinosaur Project – tickets cost £7 for a family of up to five. Ffi: www.arnosvale.org.uk The National Trust swing into action with a Ladder Making Workshops at Leigh Woods on Wed 15 Feb. At Bath’s Prior Park on that date, you can enlist the guidance of the RSPB in a birdspotting walk, after which you can ‘Adopt A Nest Box’ and help position them in the trees around the garden. Throughout the week, Dyrham Park, just outside Bath, challenges you to follow its selfsufficiency trail in the garden to discover all the different types of food that were grown and made on the estate in the past. Ffi: www. nationaltrust.org.uk Meanwhile, free entertainment is on offer for families at Cabot Circus this half term, with grass, desk chairs and giant games including Connect 4 and Jenga. Ffi: www.cabotcircus.com.
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COURSES, WORKSHOPS, JOBS AND STUFF
Born to run Bristol’s pioneering Running School reckons anyone can run – perfectly. Anna Britten is put through her paces.
o one ever teaches you how to run, do they? You just do it. As a toddler, your parents are too busy fumbling for the camera, and clapping, to fine-tune your technique. At school, as long as you return from cross country in one piece by the time your PE teacher has finished her third Lambert and Butler, you’re considered capable. And then you grow up, either never run again except for the bus, or take up running and contentedly place one foot in front of the other until age/hip trouble stops you. And, unless someone spots your athletic potential, no one ever tells you whether you’re doing it right or not. Until now. Bristol Running School, based at Bristol Lawn Tennis Club in Redland, is the latest offshoot of a busy, Premiership footballer-chocked Chiswick version set up 11 years ago by veteran professional coach and rehabilitation specialist Mike Antoniades. Claiming all injuries are caused by bad technique, BRS uses a treadmill and a video camera to examine and correct your biomechanical technique. Where a running store might study your gait from the knee down, The Running School is interested in everything from the shoulders down. “Shin splints, runner’s knee, achilles tendon, hip, knee, lower back problems…” lists coach Amy Hiller. “Physio only offers short-term solutions. We strip your running right down, and balance your biomechanics so you can run forever – it’s a skill for life. “We have names for different types of runners,” she explains. There’s the
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‘shuffler’ (slow, don’t kick their heels up much), the ‘twister’ (rotates the top half of their body so they run as if on a tightrope), the ‘weekend warrior’ (nothing for five days then whoosh), the ‘octopus’ (like Phoebe from ‘Friends’), amongst others. She shows me ‘before’ and ‘after’ videos of some of the school’s clients. One man – a heel-striker suffering with shin splints and labouring with an attendant painful-looking plod – is so much taller, faster and fitterlooking in his ‘after’ vid I initially think it is a different, younger person. Videos of their youngest clients are also illuminating – the school teaches children from the age of seven, achieving particularly impressive results with those with dyspraxia and autism who may have been dismissed as “just not sporty” by their teachers and parents. Some of them look well on their way to giving Usain Bolt a run for his money. And then it’s my turn. First, Amy asks me about my running. I tell her I’ve been doing it for about five years, with the occasional half marathon, and enjoy it so much I plan to run until my legs stop working. Sometimes I worry that day may come sooner than I thought because I have apparently buggered up my big toes by – and this is embarrassing trying to run like a Ethiopian.
Thankfully, Amy is kind enough not to laugh, or lecture me on the idiocy of attempting to fast-track your way to an entire nation’s ingrained running culture, work ethic and endless legs – but insists I alter my front-footed technique to prevent further injury. “We had another woman who did that,” she says sternly. “All her toes went black.” Next I hop on the treadmill and start running at a medium pace, with Amy filming me from behind and the side. “You are very front-footed,” she confirms afterwards. Sadly, when we play back my video, I can see that’s not all. Amy checks my centre of gravity against my front foot and points out I am landing in front of myself, effectively applying the brakes. Then there’s my heel height – not enough. My right glute is “not playing the game” (“very common in people who work at a computer”), I need to stand taller, I’m wastefully rotating my shoulders, not pumping my arms enough, have an unstable pelvis and spend too much time bouncing up and down rather than going forward. “Story of my life,” I ruefully think. Were I a client, I’d follow up this analysis session with five more, all one-to-one, working on technique and strength both on the treadmill
and out of doors. I’d also get a handbook and limitless telephone support from Amy whenever I had a running query or niggle. “Even if you’re out on a run and something weird happens,” she says, “you could call me.” Many runners secretly weigh up others when out and about. This must apply doubly for you, I say. She is, she admits, a little obsessed: “It’s hard to focus on driving when I am out and about especially around the downs I am looking more at how people on the pavement run rather than on the road! It’s constant for us coaches – but I suppose it’s a good thing, as we notice and pick up on every different variation of running that there is out there.” I leave resolving from now on to think less in terms of haile gebrselassie and more in terms of a 70-yearold me still managing the odd 10k. Bristol running school are offering free biomechanical assessments to all venue readers and holding an open day on sat 11 feb at the bristol lawn tennis & squash club, redland green rd, redland, bristol bs6 7hf. Six sessions at bristol running school cost £260. Ffi: 0117 973 8319; www.Runningschool.Co.Uk/ cations/bristol/about-us
Are you a Shuffler, Twister or an Octopus?
1/25/2012 12:20:57 PM
The Bristol Running School unpicks your technique - from the shoulders down
// Skills news // French cuisine… Pilates at the barre… Birds and lichens… // Practise your French and learn to rustle up a divine dinner in small groups with the Alliance Française throughout February. Three evening sessions, of an hour and a half each, take place in Clifton on Wed 8, Wed 15 and Wed 22 Feb with French tutor and chef Iza. You’ll need GCSE-level French. Cost: £72 (ingredients extra). Ffi: 0117) 9247809 or info@afbristol. org.uk
Top five winter running gizmos All available from Moti (Whiteladies Rd, Bristol BS8 2LS. Ffi: 0117 973 7000; www.mymoti.com)
// Celebrity fitness craze Ballet Barre has arrived in Bristol thanks to experienced pilates instructor Efuah Bonney. Incorporating the principles of pilates and dance, MindBodyBarre runs Wed-Sat at Westbury Park’s Mind
Body Studio and costs £9 per 50minute session. Says Efuah: “It really works on those bits that most of us find difficult to shift; and its fun.” Ffi: 0117 944 1114.
// Bristol Zoo has its eye on your grey stuff this month with three educational events for adults. When Nightingales Sang on Tue 7 Feb takes you back to a time when skylarks sang above the Downs and the nightingale’s song could be heard on Bridge Valley Road. The event runs from 7-8pm and costs £3. On Sat 11 Feb you can get busy Identifying Mosses And Liverworts in Leigh Woods with expert Justin Smith (10am-3.30pm; £17.50). Sat 25 Feb is all about Identifying Lichens On The Downs with local lichen enthusiast Sheila Quin (10.30am-12.30pm; £4). Ffi: 0117 903 0609; www.bristolzoo.org.uk
Nike+ Sportswatch, £179 Powered by TomTom GPS, this sports watch tracks heart rate, distance, speed, calories burnt and stores your run history. Gore Pulse beany, £20.42 A stretchy, comfortable beany perfect for winter training with reflective print on front and back and moisture wicking.
Sennheiser headphones, £37.62 Sweat- and waterproof earphones for use during exercise. Unique twist-to-fit design.
Nike shoe wallet, £7.50 Lightweight shoe wallet to clip to your laces for keys, ID, money or other small essentials.
OMM Finch Vest, £150 Ultra warm, lightweight, goose-down gilet for those freezing runs in the snow.
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Out & about LGBT History Month, Taunton’s Outset arts fest ... February’s looking busy, writes Darryl W Bullock.
ebruary, of course, is LGBT History Month, and there’s a slew of events taking place across the region to mark it. Special mention to Hydra Books, in Old Market, which is hosting a series of talks, including three evenings specifically designed at demystifying the lives of trans people (see www. hydrabooks.org.uk for full details), and to OutStories Bristol, the region’s LGBT history project, which is co-ordinating the whole shebang as well as hosting its own walks, talks and exhibitions. Download the full programme at www. outstoriesbristol.org.uk Get over to the Cube, Dove St, Bristol on Fri 24 where the Arnolfini’s Tom Marshman is hosting another in his series of Beacons, Icons and Dykons nights, which this time includes a screening of the lesbian cult classic ‘The Killing of Sister George’. For the evening Tom is attempting to create the vibe of a 60s lesbian speakeasy, and the screening will be accompanied by a heady mix of performances inspired by the film. This month also sees the second outing for Outset, the weekend-long LGBT arts festival which takes place at Taunton’s Brewhouse Theatre from Fri 10 until Sun 12 February. Says organiser Louise Barrett: “This year Outset has gathered together a fantastic mix of events and shows, with acts from London, Brighton and across the UK. We also have a terrific mix of regional LGBT performance proving that we have a strong creative LGBT hub.” The weekend kicks off with a fabulous cocktail hour hosted by exuberant DJ Shona Shuffles, followed by a performance of The Sexes, a provocative blend of theatre, video and new writing described as “dark, very dark, but also beautiful”. That same evening sees the UK premier of ‘Luna’, a brave story offering an insight into the life of a transsexual teen from Pretty Good Girl
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EVENTS NOT TO MISS IN FEBRUARY Feb 1 // UWE LGBT History Month Launch Red Bar, UWE Frenchay Campus, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol, BS16 1QY, 1pm. Ffi: www. uwesu.org/campaigns or email@example.com • LGBT History Month kicks offs with one big, bold statement. Guest speakers and special performances TBC.
Outset: Taunton's weekend-long arts fest
Feb 3 // Out UWE/UWE Drama Society Cocktail Night & Pride Fundraiser The Queenshilling, 9 Frogmore St, Bristol, BS1 5NA • Students unite for a special fancy dress cocktail party raising funds for this year’s Pride Bristol.
Dance Theatre using their unique blend of storytelling, dance, film and physical theatre. Comedienne Bethany Black rounds the evening off in style with her dark brand of comedy. Other highlights over the weekend include free singing, drama and dance workshops, an open mic session, the return of The Big Gay Debate (Sat 11 Feb, 5pm), a performance from those dapper gentlewomen O’Hooley and Tidow (Sat, 8pm), a Jazz Brunch with Barratt & Drummond (Sun, 11.30am) and the Tallulah theatre collective close the festival with an all-female rendition of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ (Sun, 1pm). Tickets for all events are available individually (£7-£15, concessions available) and a discounted festival pass is also available for £40 which gives access to all events. Bolstered by their placement in the Stonewall Top100 employers index, University of West of England staff and students are coming together to mark LGBT History Month with a series of events including: club nights; a conference looking at LGBT visibility with students from across the South West’s universities (as well as those from Manchester and Liverpool); a flashmob planned for Valentine’s Day and LGBT film screenings at UWE’s onsite cinema. Details on all events – including which are open to the public – can be found at www.uwesu.org/campaigns
Feb 4 // One in Ten Victoria Rooms, Queens Rd, Bristol, BS8 1SA, 7.30pm, £10/£5 concs. Ffi: www.singoutbristol. com • SingOut Bristol, the city’s award-winning LGBT choir, renowned for their accomplished singing and humorous, unstuffy delivery, hold their regular winter concert. Feb 5 // LGBT History Walk around Bath Meet at the War Memorial, Queen’s Parade, Bath, 2pm, free (donations to OutStories Bristol welcome). Ffi: 0870 811 1990 • A 90-minute walk taking in buildings and monuments which have LGBT associations. Feb 7 // A Celebration of Lesbian & Gay Literature Hydra Books, 34 Old Market St, Bristol, BS2 0EZ, 7-9pm. Ffi: outstoriesbristol.org.uk or www.hydrabooks.org.uk • From love poems to sci-fi and satire, an evening of readings from literature with LGBT themes. Bring your favourite poem or excerpt to
share; help raise the profile of this new bookshop in Bristol’s Gay Village. Organised and run by OutStories Bristol, a community group collecting and documenting the stories of LGBT people in Bristol. Feb 16 // Celebrating Trans Lives: Trans People’s Contributions to Modern Medicine & Culture Hydra Books, 34 Old Market St, Bristol, BS2 0EZ, 7-9pm. Ffi: outstoriesbristol.org.uk or www.hydrabooks.org.uk • Dr Louis Bailey demonstrates the ways in which trans people have contributed to the development of modernday healthcare, and how the trans community continues to shape understandings of and social responses to gender variance. Feb 18 // We Are: Remembering The Queenshilling, 9 Frogmore St, Bristol, BS1 5NA. Ffi: www.wearefest.com, www. queenshilling.com or www. bristolpanthers.co.uk • Special event for LGBT History Month. Expect a trip down memory lane with music from the 80s, 90s and 00s along with information on LGBT fights, plights and triumphs from those decades. The night is also a social for the Bristol Panthers football club (below) following their fourth annual Bristol Challenge Cup.
Feb 29 // Love Music, Hate Homophobia Eton, 28 Baldwin St, Bristol, BS1 1NL, 7pm, £5. Ffi: www.uwesu.org/ campaigns/ or daryn.carter@ uwe.ac.uk • OutUWE (UWE’s LGBT student network) present a fundraising event featuring choirs, circus acts, jazz, poetry and performance art, with Sing Out Bristol, Anna Freeman, Swing Thing, the UWE Drama Society and Crinkle Cuts.
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HUNGRY FOR MORE? Flip the page for Venue & Folio’s food & drink mini-mag, Eating Out West
// THE MONTH AHEAD //
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