Stewart Lee

Stewart LeeElectric Palace 27 April 2015
BR Rating ****

By Caitlin Appleton-Scott

“No one is equipped to review me,” said Stewart Lee, when the multi-talented, floppy-haired comedian returned to the Electric Palace having deprived the poor people of Bridport of his presence for 10 whole years.

So here goes.

Having watched Lee’s Comedy Vehicle on countless occasions, with his bit on Paul Nuttall from UKIP and immigration permanently engrained in my mind, I arrived shivering with anticipation.

Those of you who haven’t already seen his series, watch it now.

Lee reminded us of the universally-accepted Samoan conventions. The classic Samoan collar compiled of guttering with potato sculptures of Deborah Winger, John Lithgow, and Jack Nicholson floating in a circulating parsley-sauce moat. Ah yes, and the quintessential Samoan trousers with their penis drawbridge, and the typical Samoan tradition of dancing around a burning puffin-filled bin, on which cumin and children’s mittens are sprinkled. Not to forget the unforgettable Samoan music, making use of an Analog Moog synthesizer, a strimmer on a Vauxhall Astra, and a pig being repetitively poked in the back of its neck with a leek.

He ridiculed the audience, comedy, and himself alike. When we weren’t doing what we were supposed to do, he’d fill in for us, spurring the laughter on, and making it obvious that we were in fact doing exactly as he anticipated. His complete control led us to a forced encore, not that anyone was complaining, which provided an on-the-nose perfect analogy for topical events.

Lee held up a mirror up to the hypocrisy of society, using tentatively chosen words which always fulfil his intentions. He’s a latter-day F. Scott Fitzgerald, only with a more magnificent mop of hair.

Although no laughter-induced tears were shed, I was in a constant state of ab-defining giggles. The audience was dazzled by his ability to get it so right. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait another 10 years.

By |April 29th, 2015|Caitlin Appleton-Scott, Comedy, The Electric Palace|0 Comments

Earth and Rock Exhibition

Sladers Yard
18 April – 31 May 2015

BR Rating ***

By Katie Brent

At first glance, the paintings of Jan Walker look like giant slices of rock face. Up close you feel compelled to touch the intricacies of the textures. Layer upon layer of earthy tones and textures: you feel like a geologist examining an ancient granite stone that has eroded through time and weather. Her smaller pieces work better in this case; the larger artworks, in contrast, are somehow colder and more clinical.
Jan Walker Exhibition
The Sladers Yard gallery space, with its exposed stone walls and roughly rendered sections, lends itself perfectly to the tones and textures of all three artists’ work. Robin Welch’s large blue pot stands like a sentinel as you enter the gallery. His ceramic pots sit comfortably in this space; simple, interesting shapes focused on combining textures and earthen colours, offset with accents of red and gold. On closer inspection they have an intriguing depth of surface, texture and colour, creating a sense of ancient earth found objects.

Frances Hatch’s artworks draw you in. Her method of using found material in situ creates depth and atmosphere in her landscapes, adding earthy tones and expressive, lively marks. Up close you see the detail of the textures, and here and there bits of old firework wrappers or newspaper hidden in the layers.

Her interpretation of landscape is very atmospheric. They work well in both large and small scale. Her smaller artworks have great depth and the sense of looking down the coastline is very apparent.
Frances Hatch
You leave the gallery blinking into the sunlight almost feeling like you’ve been on an ancient archaeological dig – well worth the experience.

By |April 23rd, 2015|Katie Brent, Sladers Yard|0 Comments

Far from the Madding Crowd

Electric Palace

Red Carpet at the Palace

Electric Palace 17 April 205
BR Rating ****

By Margery Hookings

When Mapperton House first showed its golden, ham-stone face on the big screen at the Electric Palace, I almost wept. The landscape was an English version of Tuscany glowing in the evening sun.

It was a night full of emotion, as tenants and farmers from the estate gathered in the balcony for the Dorset première of Far from the Madding Crowd.

What an occasion. They’ve probably never all been into town like that together, as one group. And while the luvvies and London PR girls did air kisses and tottered around as if they had been prototypes for Ab Fab, the gang from Mapperton and neighbouring hamlets merely smiled and said “all right?”.

It was a surreal experience, walking into the foyer along a red carpet lined with spring flowers, twinkly lights and security guards.

The film is an adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s classic novel, with screenplay by One Day novelist David Nicholls. Doubtless it will be compared with the 1967 film by John Schlesinger starring Julie Christie, Peter Finch, Terence Stamp and Alan Bates. It compares well: it is darker and more intimate in places, with more emphasis on character rather than plot, which is what drove Schlesinger’s film.

In a nutshell, beautiful but headstrong woman inherits farm in glorious countryside and is wooed by three suitors – the solid and steady son of the soil, Gabriel Oak, the dashing cad, Sergeant Frank Troy, and the middle-aged, boring but wealthy landowner, William Boldwood.

Who will she choose, and what will she – and they – go through to get there?

Carey Mulligan radiates an assertive luminosity in the lead role but without the vanity Hardy ascribes to her character. Her passion is awakened by Troy, who forsakes Maiden Castle for a dark wood to show her his skills as a swordsman and uses a clinch to touch her up through her dress. This is the point where the pace of the film quickens; the lush landscape takes a secondary role and the characters develop.

Tom Sturridge is a bit of a weasel and seems like a boy in a soldier’s uniform. Michael Sheen, as ever, turns in a great performance although there are shades of Blair in his nervous smile. We end up, though, really feeling sorry for the serious man whose head is turned by the antics of a wilful woman when she’s flirting.

But what of Matthias Schoenaerts in the role of Gabriel Oak – a Belgian taking the part of a Dorset shepherd? Apart from a few words that jar, his accent doesn’t get in the way at all. This Oak was handsome – more handsome than Alan Bates. He was strong, safe and loving and quietly underpinned the whole film.

None of the main characters even bothered with a local accent, let alone a dialect. And the minor ones that did sounded like they came from this part of the world rather than Bristol.
The scenes with local extras were a joy, particularly those in the cornfields at harvesting. Far from the Madding Crowd is beautifully lit and photographed – the Americans will love this slice of English heaven.

And at the end, the little Mapperton family joined with others to clap and cheer during the closing credits, knowing their charabanc would arrive soon to take them back to the glorious hinterland, far from the madding crowd.

Picture: Margery Hookings

By |April 18th, 2015|Margery Hookings, Review, The Electric Palace|2 Comments

Ferocious Dog

Ferocious dogElectric Palace 16 April 2015
BR Rating ****

By Sean Geraghty

“Blown away,” answered Ken Bonsall, when I asked the band’s frontman what he made of the experience at Bridport’s Electric Palace. I would have said the same thing, as any ‘Ferocious virgin’ would.

I approached the gig with scepticism. I’d seen the website with its striking photographic images of a mohawked singer, backed by a piratical crew playing to a moshing bare-chested tattooed crowd and thought… erm, OK what’s this all about? Smoke and mirrors, or is this the real deal?

Hailing from Warsop, a village in Nottinghamshire between Mansfield and Worksop, the band has hit a rich seam, appropriate for a former mining community.

Their second album was crowd-funded and a significant endorsement in a business landscape where faith is rarely demonstrated with such enthusiasm and easily misplaced in less-deserving causes. Their reputation grows by word of mouth.

Ferocious Dog offer a full-on six-piece sound that encompasses folk infused with rock, reggae and Celtic vibrations. The combination of instruments creates a palette of sound that offers infinite variations: going in hard to get people up and moving, or slipping into melodic passages and dub-like fusions without the gruesome pretentions of some bands they have been compared with, (mentioning no names… I’m on the level here.)

I was sold when I strolled into the 200-ish crowd on a Thursday night seeing a geezer in a Clash t-shirt singing about Gallows Justice, following with tunes titled Poor Angry, Young, Living On Thin Air… not an easy sell to the typical age-ambiguous West-Dorset-Thursday-Night-Willing crowd.

There was definitely something going on, with Scott Walters’ exceptional drumming – a boy who can seriously PLAY – it still took a few warm-up tunes and pointed persuasion from Dan Booth’s dazzling fiddlework to weld the unconverted audience to the more dedicated lyric-hollering fans who had turned up in force from all corners of the country.

The bridge was built with two songs titled The Glass and Lee’s Tune. Lee, a young soldier who came back from the war in Afghanistan, died at his own hand after struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. This was no made-up pastiche but a story told direct from his father, Ken, mourning his son’s suicide and being delivered with such dignified passion, with no sentimentality, no nonsense.

Ferocious Dog have plenty to say and plenty to offer. They could be taken as a good stomping night out or as political messengers, but they should be taken seriously. They stand and deliver, reclaiming the credibility and tradition of the fiercely independent musicians that once roamed the music scene, setting their own agenda, supported by their own fans. It’s punk Jim, just as we knew it.

They should soon be seen on bigger stages. They deserve the opportunity to make a name for themselves without comparison, and I hope it comes their way soon.

By |April 17th, 2015|Music, Review, Sean Geraghty|0 Comments

Pie – Ellie Madden, 2005

I want to eat pie with you.
Sedately, with knives and forks at first,
With tablecloth and napkins
And proper sauce.

A splash will land in your hair
And I’ll lean across and pull it out
With my fingers.

which I lick

A pea will roll off the tines of my fork
and onto my brown wool skirt
and you’ll push your chair away
and it will scrape across the floor
and then you’ll put one hand
on my knee
and I’ll feel your warm breath
through my skirt
as you pick up the green sphere
in your red mouth.

I’ll tense my thighs
and probably drop
the aforementioned fork,
so that it clatters onto the plate
catapulting a piece of pie
which will fly
in
slow
motion
and land on the floor
splattering brown sauce.

The tablecloth has gravy decoration.
The pie dish is smeared with congealing protein.
The sink is rolling around with pies, peas, plates and pastry.

and

I’m as hungry as I can imagine.

I want to eat pie with you.

Ellie Madden, 2005

By |April 17th, 2015|Poetry|0 Comments