If Truth Be Told

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A Villanelle

*

The men that catch my eye these days are few

The ones that do are married men, or mad

And truth be told I only fancy you

I doubt that in the pub or porch or pew

I’ll meet a man like you who makes me glad

The men that catch my eye these days are few

I could be looking but I seldom do

There’s only you for me, you ‘lucky’ lad

If truth be told I only fancy you

Until the day fate sends me someone new

I’m all for you, I know, it’s odd, and sad

But men that catch my eye these days are few

You make me happy, boy, you make me blue

I hold a torch for you, and I grow mad

For truth be told I only fancy you

I’ve told you something you already knew

I’m sorry, but I’ve really got it bad

The men that catch my eye these days are few

If truth be told I only fancy you

*

© Gail Foster 21st July 2017

The Crone and the Maiden

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for Idril

*

At Avebury, on Solstice eve, a crone and a maiden sat

The crone wore a weary wisdom, and the maid wore a flowery hat

And as the sun sank ‘neath the hill, and the sky flushed rosy red

The maid, her eyes all full of flame, turned to the crone and said

‘I know nothing of love, speak to me, of marrying, and men

How will I know if I lie with a man, that he’ll come to me again

How will I know if I lie with him, that his heart be faithful and true

They say that the crone knows everything, so tell me, tell me do’

The crone put down her weaving, sighed a little, thought, and spoke

‘How do you know that the bees will buzz, or the wren will sing in the oak

How do you know that the night will flee, or the birds fly free on the morn

As sure as you know that the sun will rise, and the stones be here at dawn’

‘That isn’t an answer,’ said the maid, ‘I want more certainty

How will I know that he speaks the truth when he lies down with me

How will I know by the look in his eye, or the touch of his hand on my breast

Whether he be the man for me, and king above all the rest’

‘You won’t,’ said the crone, ‘you’ll never know, ‘tis up to fate and chance

‘Tis biology, mystery, fantasy, a curse, and a merry dance

Just drink of the wild heat of him, while fire still burns in the sky

For men will come and go, my dear, all suns will fade and die’

The maiden sighed a little, and the crone a little too

‘It seems like only yesterday that I was a maid like you

With oak and roses in my hair, and eyes all full of flame’

‘Best get some in,’ the maid said

‘Ay,’ the crone said, ‘that’s the game’

At Avebury, on Solstice eve, a crone and a maiden sat

The maid wore a little wisdom, and the crone wore the maiden’s hat

And time passed by in a wheel of stars, till dark gave way to the dawn

And the sun rose pink upon the hill, and the king rode in on the morn

*

© Gail Foster 17th June 2017

Sad Solstice Sonnet

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*

This time last year, at Solstice, love, you came

To lie with me, as ancient lore decrees

We drew the sun to earth, and kindled flame

Between us blessed the flowers and the trees

And I wore poppies in my hair, and you

A crown of acorns proud upon your head

How swiftly round the ring the magic flew

When you and I made Avebury our bed

But that was then, and this is now, today

I come without my power and alone

No sign remains of you, or where we lay

No shadow on the grass or on the stone

Another summer, and another ring

I am no longer Goddess to your King

*

© Gail Foster 16th June 2017

burning for justice

the weather, today

overcast, with a high chance

of riots and rain

 

dark clouds, gathering

tall towers and tipping points

enemies within

 

cities, simmering

angry hearts of righteous men

burning for justice

 

behind closed doors, committees

talk damage limitation

 

© Gail Foster 16th June 2017

In To The Woods at The Wharf

The Invitation Theatre Company’s performance of ‘In To The Woods’; a review

*

I was delighted to be invited to the dress rehearsal of TITCO’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s ‘In To The Woods’ at The Wharf, directed by Peter Nelson.  TITCO are a quality act, and I always enjoy their shows.

I watched.  Cute.  Fun.  Some great duets.  Haha! Ian Diddams as the cow.  Woah, Jemma Brown as a bitchy witch (be afraid, be very afraid!).  Neat cape, Tracy Lawrence.  ‘Scrumptious carnality’?  Goodness me.  Love the screen device, and the sepia film.  Clever.  Nice birches.  Ooh, blood.

And then Happy Ever After.

?

As I rode off on my bike I couldn’t help but feel there was something missing.  Something I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

That would have been Act Two.  Thought it was a bit short.

So, Monday, opening night, and I’m back again.  Ah, there it all is.  The finishing touches have been put to the stage and it’s all pretty with birch and blossom and soft greens, with a backdrop that leads to…who knows.  And someone has clearly been working hard in the Mojo department, because TITCO are bursting with a confidence and enthusiasm that I just didn’t see on Sunday…

It’s a moral tale of good versus evil, this, set in a dark and mysterious wood where anything could happen.  It’s a mash up of Grimms’ Fairy Tales, starring Cinderella, Jack of Beanstalk Fame, Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel.  It’s a quest for a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn, and a slipper as pure as gold.  If only we could find these things then the curse would be lifted and all would be well…

Be careful in the woods, and be careful what you wish for.  ‘Nice is different than good’, after all.

I’m used to TITCO being good.  One can’t enthuse enough really.  These people work together really well, and they’re all worth watching.

As far as acting goes, however, a few performances stand out for me.

Lottie Diddams plays Little Red as Violet Elizabeth, or Queenie from Blackadder, all foot-stamping and pouty, with great comic timing.  Paul Morgan as The Wolf is superbly sinister.  Jemma’s Personality Disorder Witch is terrifying.  Ian Diddams chews cud really well, the Victorian Ugly Sisters are witty, and there’s real tenderness shown in the performances of Naomi Ibbetson as Cinderella and Teresa Bray as the Baker’s Wife.

But TITCO shine brightest when they sing, and in this show it’s the duets that shine the most; The Witch and Rapunzel (Lucy Burgess), Little Red and The Wolf, and anything involving Princes (Mari Webster and Simon Hoy) in particular.  As far as ensemble songs and choreography go, well that’s all good too, and it’s impossible to fault the complex ‘Your Fault’, in which Jack (Lewis Jackson) gets to find his voice.

It’s dark in The Woods, don’t you know.  And it gets darker.  People die.  People reveal the worst and best sides of their natures.  Some of it is positively Freudian.  Just when you think it’s a Happy Ever After…it isn’t.  There be giants and stuff, really good special effects and scary bits.  And there be also, and perhaps most terrifyingly of all, randy Princes…

My award for ‘Man of the Match’ without doubt goes to Mari Webster, for her startlingly sexual thigh-slapping performance as ‘Cinderella’s Prince’ and her hilarious duets with Simon Hoy and Teresa Bray.  Whilst ‘In To The Woods’ is not a pantomime, she plays the part in classical principal boy fashion.  She’s well timed, hugely witty, great to look at, and utterly fascinating to watch.

In summary; In To The Woods, at The Wharf…

Slightly confusing, as plots go, but deliciously entertaining.

Looks cool.

Good performances all round.

Lots of laughs.

Great singing.

Mayhem.  Magnetism.  Mirth.

Moral tale?  Fairy tale?  Musical?  Not-quite-a-pantomime?

You decide.

Call it whatever you like, but don’t miss it.

It’s a fun frolic.

And it is well good.

Nicely played TITCO.

Again.

© Gail Foster 6th June 2017

PS And after this, if you’re hungry for more excellent Devizes entertainment, why there’s Devizes Arts Festival…

…and they all lived happily ever after 😊

The Sacred Presence

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For Felicity Walker

*

This morning, at the altar rail, I kneel

Beside a woman called Felicity

As delicate as china roses, frail

Much closer to the mystic veil than me

And as the priest approaches with the host

A ray of sun comes sudden from the east

Lord, let it shine on her, who needs it most

And waste it not on me, who needs it least

And so it comes, in blazing gold and white

Infusing her with glory as she prays

Behold, she is an angel full of light

Enfolded in the wonder of his ways

There at the altar with Felicity

I feel the sacred presence next to me

*

© Gail Foster 14th May 2017

Rivers Again

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Let there be rain on Wiltshire fields, before the ancient streams run dry…

*

I hear the sky whispering rumours of rain

Apparently there will be rivers again

Worms for the blackbirds and toads in the mud

Puddles on petals and fields in flood

Streams in the gutter, in burrow and street

Children and rabbits with little wet feet

Flashes of flame setting Ceres alight

And thunderclaps frightening pigeons in flight

The waters will fall on the morrow they say

Deep in the cracks of the dry earth of May

And farmers and flowers with tears in their eyes

Will watch as the corn and the reservoirs rise

As ever the moaners will mutter and sigh

And shake their umbrellas, and curse at the sky

*

© Gail Foster 12th May 2017