Hank Wangford & the Lost Cowboys

Hank Wangford

Hank Wangford by Alison Lang

Bridport Arts Centre
Friday 4 September 8pm
Tickets: £16.50/£12

Preview by Lawrence Hansen

Hank Wangford gets the Bridport Hat Festival off to a rollicking start with a gig at the Arts Centre. He appears with four all-star hard-core country musicians, including B.J. Cole, a leading UK exponent of the pedal steel guitar.

Hank is passionate about country music and enjoys playing to non-believers. His many jokes – e.g. sidekicks Bad Breath and Manley Footwear – should not obscure his devotion to this quintessentially American folk tradition. Even the New York Times commented that his music ‘still has the bite and twang that has been drained out of so much Country music’. At the age of 74, Hank still records and tours vigorously. Under the no-hall-too-small programme of the National Rural Touring Forum he has appeared in some 300 out-of-the-way venues.

He is also the founder of the Nude Mountaineering Society and continues to serve as its president. His inspiration was George Mallory who climbed without trousers in the Himalayas. Membership couldn’t be easier: find a peak somewhere, remove your clothes, take a selfie and send it to him.

Hank is the guitar-playing alter ego of Dr Sam Hutt, a sexual healthcare specialist who has helped to develop clinical practice in poor countries such as Bosnia and Transylvania. He’s a genuine English eccentric in the tradition of, for example, Sir George Sitwell (who painted his cows in blue willow patterns as part of a landscaping scheme) and Lord Berners (who had Penelope Betjeman’s horse in his sitting room for tea).

However, it’s Hank who’s coming to Bridport on Friday with his uniquely amusing Country and Western act.

By |August 31st, 2015|Music|0 Comments

A Matter of Taste


By Nick Pitt

Queueing up on a Sunday morning in Waitrose to grab a card-holder’s freebie copy of The Good Food Guide was not good for the spleen or for residual radical credentials. The entries for Bridport further blackened the mood. There aren’t any. Only two nearby restaurants receive the coveted status of inclusion: Brassica in Beaminster and the Hive Beach Café at Burton Bradstock.

Nothing much wrong with those establishments. I have had good reports of Brassica, where the cooking is said to be more consistently excellent than it was when the joint was Mat Follas’s Wild Garlic. The Hive Beach, too, is worthwhile but it’s essentially self-service at restaurant prices.

My real beef is about omission. No Olive Tree. No Bull. No Riverside. No Rachel’s kiosk. Above all, no Lula, where Angie Heywood cooks with such verve.

  • Let us know which local eateries you think should be included.
By |August 30th, 2015|Food & Drink|0 Comments

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and PrejudiceChapterhouse Theatre Company
Bridport Arts Centre 29 August 2015
BR Rating: **

By John Pownall

It ought to be easy, moving inside from the rain. But like all transpositions, something can get lost, and in the case of Chapterhouse’s adaptation of the Austen favourite, which was shifted from the Millennium Green to the Marlowe Theatre on South Street, it seemed at times that a great deal had been. The summer has not been kind.
Aside all else, the sets did not help the actors on the stage. Entrances and exits were all from the central opening between the flats, which no doubt works well in an outdoor setting, but for some reason looked messy in the theatre. The sound was far from compelling, and at one moment there was a bizarre interruption, with modern pop music blasting from the speakers. Clearly a mistake, and hurriedly rectified, but it added to the overall sense of untidiness.

There is a problem with this novel as a theatrical adaptation: it can lack drama. Austen is all about reflection, interiority, and nuance – not easy to telegraph from the proscenium. More than this, the happy ending is writ large from day one and – yes, we all know the story far too well. Perhaps a lesser known Austen might fare better, and it is noted that Persuasion, a more mature work, is also being adapted by Chapterhouse.

As for the performances themselves, there were some strengths. Amy Forde’s Jane was pitch-perfect, capturing well the suppressed heartbreak of her ostensible jilting by Bingley. Ella Sawyers’ Charlotte brought out the restrained embarrassment of being married to a pompous and snobbish prig at a time when divorce was unthinkable, financially and socially. These were measured interpretations, not matched by the representation of the flighty Lydia, which seemed caricatured and too 21st century, striking a false note in a production which worked hard generally not to update the original.

There was a good deal of doubling up of parts, the cast being modest for touring and profit-sharing purposes no doubt, and most of it worked extremely well. Fergus Leathem impressed with his Wickham and his Collins. It was not always easy to shift from Darcy to Mr Bennet, however, despite the best endeavours of the other Fergus in this ensemble, Rees. As for the key role of Elizabeth Bennet (the only part which was not doubled) it did feel as if there was a missing link here, nothing to bridge the gap between the heroine and the audience in the way that Austen brings us close to her in the novel. Elizabeth seemed a distant, somewhat glacial figure for much of the evening.

That said, a couple of her scenes were done very well. Elizabeth’s late confrontation with Lady de Bourgh and her ultimate coming together with Darcy were acutely done, and very faithful to the letter and spirit of the text, as was much of the dialogue. Indeed why modify greatness? The wit and acuity of Jane Austen’s characters’ voices still remain compelling 200 years after first publication, and while this was not the best of the many adaptations of this novel over recent decades, it was nevertheless pretty enjoyable fare for the sizeable Bank Holiday weekend audience.

By |August 30th, 2015|John Pownall, Theatre|1 Comment

Pride and Prejudice

BR Coming SoonOpen Air Theatre, Millennium Green
Saturday 29 August 7pm
Tickets £12/£8 (Arts Centre Box Office)

It cannot have been an easy August for Chapterhouse, a touring theatre company specialising in outdoor shows. First the forecast: cloudy. So it’s worth the risk to see their version of Jane Austen’s classic. Pack a hamper, plus a rug and an umbrella just in case.

  • Read John Pownall’s review on Sunday morning
By |August 27th, 2015|Coming Soon|0 Comments

Wide Screen, Wider World

Leviathan 1 Film Society launches new season

Be bold, go global and start with a big bang seem to be the precepts of the estimable Bridport Film Society, which has just announced its programme for the forthcoming 2015-16 season.

As nights draw in, the Society’s members will congregate at the Arts Centre on certain Tuesday evenings to watch a selection of the 80 films plus that their programming committee has chosen after much viewing and debate.

First up, the big one, is Leviathan on 22 September. This epic from the ‘new Russia’ has won a shoal of awards and was given five stars by the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw, who reckoned the work “a movie with real grandeur… acted and directed with unflinching ambition.”

Many other notable films from around the world have been lined up and the Society, in its 51st season, will also host a special event on 15 December as a fund-raiser for their venue, the Arts Centre.

  • See www.bridportfilmsociety.co.uk for full details. Screenings are for society members and guests only. Membership is limited to 200 and full season membership costs £35. (Act quickly if you want to join.) Printed brochures are available in the Arts Centre and Fruits of the Earth. Or you can download a copy by clicking here.
By |August 27th, 2015|Film|0 Comments