Rain Dance

*

Waiting for thunder, waiting for rain
Waiting for lightning to strike on the plain

When will it come, when will it come?
The heat of the sun on the skin of a drum

Watching horizons, watching the hills
Watching the widening cracks in the rills

When will it come, when will it come?
One drop of rain on the skin of a drum

Dreaming of rivers, dreaming of seas
Dreaming of streams and delirious trees

When will it come, when will it come?
Two drops of rain on the skin of a drum

Thinking of doomsday, thinking of drought
Thinking of reservoirs all drying out

When will it come, when will it come?
Three drops of rain on the skin of a drum

Dying for water, dying of thirst
Dying of waiting for heaven to burst

When will it come, when will it come?
Four drops of rain on the skin of a drum

Crying for mercy, crying for men
Cry for the rain to come falling again!

Hearing it come, hearing it come
The beat of the rain on the skin of a drum

Waiting for thunder, waiting for rain
Waiting for lightning to strike on the plain

*

© Gail Foster 27th July 2018

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The Sacrifice of Song

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The Choir of St. John the Baptist, Devizes

sing Evensong at St. Paul’s Cathedral

4th January 2017

*

The Temple of St. Paul’s, at Evensong;

The voices of our little children ring

In tones divine, as through the ages long

Our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters sing

How lofty, lowly, wide, and deep, and high

The mystery, the magnitude, the sound

How thunderous, the whispered gilded sigh

Of doves that fall from dome to holy ground

On altar bright; what sacrifice is this

This mass of light, this sungen density

This quantum quality, this ancient bliss

That renders speechless such a man as me

I fall upon my knees upon the floor

Sing, children, songs as these, for evermore

*

© Gail Foster 6th January 2017

Green Tears for Beauty

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*

for jemma brown and the invitation theatre company
on the occasion of anthony brown’s production
of ‘war of the worlds’, at st. mary’s in devizes

*

a mellifluous light

cello ripe and butter sweet

slides through the silence

a river of silver

flute bright and sugar spun

streams through the shadows

forever the autumn’s

melancholy melodies

play on the heart strings

suddenly remembering

past loves and passion plays

men become young again

 …

envious angels

up in the rafters weep

green tears for beauty

 *

© Gail Foster 20th November 2016

The Souls of Spring’s Children

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*

softly, whispering

featherfalls on silent stone

winter, gravity

lost in the fog, birds

grieving morning voicelessly

remembering love

dead diamonds, ditches

glittering cold promises

fossil furrow froze

darkness, deepening

the womb and the grave hiding

secrets and shadows

in the ground, waiting

the souls of springs children sing

muffled lullabies

 *

© Gail Foster 2016

Glad Eye

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for Steve Doolan

*

A man saw a maid, dancing high on a hill

She was wild as the waves of the sea

I’m thinking, he thought, that she’s looking my way

And she sure has a glad eye for me

I may do, I might do, but how would ye know

Whether my glad eye’s for you, boy, or no?

No, sir, she said, ‘tis a trick of the light

You’re deceived, for I’m looking elsewhere

And ‘tis only by chance that my mischievous glance

Has been caught by your curious stare

 …

I may do, I might do, but how would ye know

Whether my glad eye’s for you, boy, or no?

 …

How she danced, how she danced, on the top of the hill

How she swirled like a cloud in the blue

Appearing to flirt with a flick of her skirt

And the bat of an eyelash or two

I may do, I might do, but how would ye know

Whether my glad eye’s for you, boy, or no?

 …

She was here, she was gone, she was there, she was gone

As the moon on the wings of the fay

For a moment, the light, then the fall of the night

Then the smile, then the looking away

I may do, I might do, but how would ye know

Whether my glad eye’s for you, boy, or no?

Now your man was a no nonsense sensible cove

And time waits for no man, nor he

It was tea-time, and late, so he asked the girl straight

What’s with the glad eye for me?

 …

I may do, I might do, but how would ye know

Whether my glad eye’s for you, boy, or no?


She stopped for a moment, up high on the hill

And she blushed to the prettiest pink

Why, no sir, she lied, there’s just stuff in my eye

And your man is mistaken in drink

 …

I may do, I might do, but how would ye know

Whether my glad eye’s for you, boy, or no?


He thought for a minute, there wasn’t much in it

And tea had a finer appeal

So he bid her good day, in a chivalrous way

Doffed his hat, and then turned on his heel

 …

I may do, I might do, but how would ye know

Whether my glad eye’s for you, boy, or no?


Come back!  she said, ‘Twas all bullshit!  she said

Though my fancy is fickle, ‘tis true

You may take me, or leave me, but better believe me

I so have a glad eye for you

I may do, I might do, but how would ye know

Whether my glad eye’s for you, boy, or no?

 …

He thought to himself, she’s a right silly lass

But she sure has a glad eye for me

So he beckoned her down from the top of the hill

And took her back home for some tea

 …

I may do, I might do, but how would ye know

Whether my glad eye’s for you, boy, or no

For truly it’s really quite tricky to tell

Whether your man has a glad eye as well

 *

© Gail Foster 5th October 2016

Little Voice at the Wharf Theatre, Devizes; a review

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*

It’s many years since I watched the film of Little Voice.  I had dim memories of Jane Horrocks giving Shirley Bassey some serious welly in a bedroom ‘up North’ somewhere, and an expectation that Jemma Brown’s production would be well worth a watch.  I expected to be impressed by Lottie Diddams’ voice, and a well-chosen cast, and to come away feeling that my money had been well spent.

But…what’s this?  This isn’t just about a voice (but oh that voice!).  This is hilarious and emotionally devastating; about love, and loss, about mental health, alcoholism, and coping strategies, about ageing and falls from grace and exploitation.  This is something else, that’s what this is.

Jim Cartwright’s witty and poignant play, ‘The Rise and Fall of Little Voice’, unfolds in the early 90s, in the home of Mari, a single woman who is past her prime and determined to catch herself a man.  Mari lives with her daughter, LV, who spends all day in her bedroom listening to her dead father’s records and perfectly impersonating her favourite divas for amusement and psychological escape.

Allison Moore, as the drunk and desperate Mari, all ‘liquor and lacquer’ and ‘personal Mother’s nerves’, conveys the mood swings and behaviours of her alcoholic character to perfection; the false brightness, the wailing self-pity, the blaming, the ‘dancing’ round the living-room with the ironing board.  Her lines are ripe with innuendo (just what is a ‘twat bone’, exactly?), her comic timing and physical comedy are right on the button, and the monologue she delivers on realising the extent of Ray’s deception is tragic and heartrending.

Her fall guy is the bovine but supportive Sadie, acted with humour and tenderness by Claire Warren, who provides the perfect balance to her drama.  It’s not much fun to be sick and sit with it running down your shirt, and it’s no mean feat to play a ‘patient fat get’ with sensitivity, without tipping into unbelievable farce.  Sadie, along with Billy and LV, uses her silences well, leaving her body language to speak volumes.

Paul Morgan, as the manipulative and seedy Ray, slides slickly through his scenes (and Mari’s knickers) with persuasive oily grace, turning on the charm to lure LV to the stage with honeyed tales of bluebirds, intending only to exploit her talent and line his pockets whatever the cost.  His rejection of Mari is brutal, and his subsequent downfall both well-acted and well deserved

Ian Diddams, in his first role at the Wharf, plays the cheerful telephone man, and the bluff Mr Boo, the owner of the local club, with characteristic ebullience.  There is more to Mr Boo than meets the eye; he sees through Ray and Mari’s treatment of LV, and articulates perhaps the most significant line of the whole play; ‘Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the Earth. But when, eh? When?’

At the very heart of the story is the tentative and sweetly portrayed story of the friendship between Billy and LV.  These two young actors play it to perfection, with blushes, with awkward pauses and self-conscious hesitancy.  Will Sexton’s performance as Billy, the thoughtful geeky lad who is obsessed with lights, and who genuinely cares for LV, is simply wonderful.  It’s the timing, the subtle movements, and the silences, again, that make the dynamic between the two characters so believable.

Lottie Diddams as Little Voice…oh, that voice!  When she first sings the entire audience holds its breath.  That voice appears from nowhere, comes as Judy Garland, as Edith Piaf, as Marilyn; smooth and sweet, raucous and in your face, without a dropped note or a single rasp; appears from the shy silence to flower into sound, transforming Little Voice into the divas of her dreams.  That voice, suppressed for so long, explodes with rage when LV discovers that Mari has smashed her precious records, in a devastating scene of such emotional power that it is reputed to have reduced the cast to tears when they first rehearsed it.  Lottie’s notes are pure and true, and her voice control is frankly awe inspiring; she keeps us captivated from her first song to her last, and when she is standing on the ladder singing, as Billy’s happy lights whirl all around her, our hearts soar with hers.

My only (small) criticism of this play relates to the brevity of the fire scene, which I missed because I blinked.  I also have to add that every time I have seen a balcony scene at The Wharf I have felt distinctly nervous about people leaning on the scenery.  Oh, it’s OK, I thought to myself as Billy dangled on his pulley in front of LV’s window, at least he’s roped up…

Special mention also has to be made of the magnificent Curtain, a device of some complexity invented by Chris Greenwood, that rolled down at the front of the stage to make the backdrop for the club.  The Curtain had its moments during the show’s run, and may have achieved minor fame in its own right in the annals of The Wharf, and in more than one verse.

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice was a triumph of a play, amusing and emotionally challenging, the impressive result of the hard work and talent of a fine cast given good direction and a superb script to work with.

It was also a fitting expression of the love that Jemma Brown has felt for Little Voice since she first saw it in the West End.  ‘When I saw it in 1993’ she said ‘I could barely breathe.’

It left us, the audience, breathless more than once, and one particular audience member crying all the way home…

Well played, methinks.  Very well played indeed.

*

© Gail Foster 2nd October 2016

photograph of Lottie Diddams reproduced with the kind permission of Jemma Brown  

 

Fiona In The Night

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for Fiona Meyrick, poet and musician; a Petrarchan sonnet

*

Fiona, in the silence of the night

Sings songs of sorrow soft in minor key

That sigh above all formal melody

In cadences that dance like birds in flight

She rests within the dark, composing light

In subtle shades of sweet philosophy

Transposing on the stave a mystery

In spills of sound like ink on paper bright

Fiona, at the stroke of midnight blessed

Plays pianissimo the ocean’s rage

Transforming all the sins of man confessed

In gentle rhythms traced upon the page

A modern muse, an ancient truth expressed

In lullabies to sooth our restless age

*

© Gail Foster 2016