colours of sunday

IMG_9319 - Copy

 

Impressions of Sunday morning;

for Valerie, Vince, and John

*

valerie and I

call the slice of chapel light

hockney and lemon

sunshine on silver

tails of little wriggling fish

feeding the thousands

vince by the fountain

twinkling as he talks about

beetroot and the times

gold on the mustard

seeds that grow in gospel leaves

scattered on the ground

black belt lay preacher

hurling holy water on

the red fires of hell

the peace, fingers crossed

wishing my heart was as white

as the altar cloth

shades of pigeon grey

orange plastic shopping bags

taking sunday home

*

© Gail Foster 30th July 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 😊

Rivers Again

IMG_0867-01-01 - Copy

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

Swallows

Blue Heart - Copy

for Tracey Lawrence

*

She scans the sky for swallows in the Spring

Down in the Rowdey gardens, by the shed

When I was low and January dead

She held my hand and helped my spirit sing

I saw her soul, a swallow on the wing

Still flying high when other birds had fled

Such loving kindness in the words she said

Such gentleness on earth is everything

She’s in the garden, sitting in her chair

And laughing as the swallows in the skies

Make witty patterns in the Wiltshire air

Like little arrows shot across The Vize

I think that I shall just leave Tracey there

With tears of joy and swallows in her eyes

*

© Gail Foster 2nd May 2017

Easter Sunday; Devizes

IMG_0027

for John (Ted) Dexter

*

no cars on the road

all of the town sofa bound

food lulled and sleeping

walking home, a man

evensong’s slow gentle peace

on him like monks’ robes

old man and poet

meet in quiet communion

by the graveyard gate

souls of the same shade

in unspoken fellowship

watching the birds fly

on the bridge, silence

white blossom, silver water

Easter Sunday light

*

© Gail Foster 17th April 2017

Colin’s Garden

For Colin Hopgood, a good man of Devizes, who has been milkman and Mayor, and tends the allotment by Quakers Walk that gives so much pleasure to so many…

*

‘Tis Spring on the allotments, in the air

The scent of hyacinths, the sense of bees

The sunlight on the cabbages and trees

And sitting in the greenhouse, on his chair

Remembering past summers, and the Fair

The Kenyan heat, the icy Kennet freeze

The smallest seedlings grown into sweet peas

Is Colin, father, lover, milkman, mayor

He’ll tell you, if you ask him, where the boat

That sits amongst the marigolds once sat

He’ll show you his banana tree, and bowers

And time and swans will fly, and barges float

Until he calls his dogs, and doffs his hat

And sends you home with vegetables, and flowers

*

© Gail Foster 23rd March 2017

The Old Lights Of Christmas

swan

Devizes, Wiltshire; New Year’s Eve…

*

The cyclist sees, in the edge of her eye

Fireworks flash in the distant beyond

Ghostly swans on the dark of the pond

The old lights of Christmas go glittering by

The cyclist sees, in the edge of her eye

Houses shimmer with sparkling rain

Curtains drawn on sorrow and pain

The old lights of Christmas go glittering by

The cyclist sees, in the edge of her eye

Stars wheel over the Market Place

The shift of a shadow on Ceres’ face

The old lights of Christmas go glittering by

*

© Gail Foster 31st December 2016