Bob Marley and The Wailers Honoured with Blue Plaque at Legendary SARM Studios

Some people are fortunate enough to earn one honorary Blue Plaque in recognition of their life’s work. Such is the legendary status of Bob Marley and The Wailers, Bob Marley received not just one, but two Blue Plaques in the space of just 4 days last week. Following the well publicised Blue Plaque ceremony on 1st October 2019 at 42 Oakley Street, Chelsea, where Bob Marley lived in 1977, on 4th October 2019, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer received a second Blue heritage Plaque to commemorate the recording of ‘Exodus’ and ‘Burnin’ and further enhance their legendary status thanks to their immense contribution to musical history.

Prior to the Nubian Jak Community Trust plaque unveiling, a massive audience of almost 300 people packed into Basing Street, Ladbroke Grove, London W11 to hear fantastic live music and a libation from Niles Hauilstones and Alexander D Great, who sang ‘Get up Stand Up’ and ‘No Woman No Cry’ respectively. These were superb, uplifting performances and both artists got the crowd involved in singing along. This helped create a wonderful atmosphere for the occasion.

There were a number of speeches from local dignitaries including the Mayor of Kensington and Chelsea, Cllr Will Pascall, Emma Dent Coad MP for Kensington, plus legendary music producer Trevor Horn. Cllr Pascall said, “It was an honour to celebrate the most successful reggae band in history.”

Alexander D Great

It’s worth recalling that the legend all started when Neville Livingstone aka Bunny Wailer invited his step brother Robert Marley and close friend Peter Tosh to form a band called The Wailing Wailers. They would become the most important band in the history of reggae music. The main reason for this was that it was 1963 and the music genre of reggae had yet to be invented.

Bob Marley and The Wailers remixed and finished their album’s ‘Catch a Fire’ (1973) and Exodus (1977) inside the SARM /Island Record studios and Bob Marley even lived in an apartment above the studio in 1977 whilst recording Exodus. Exodus was later voted Time magazine ‘Best Album of the 20th Century.’

Many famous records were recorded there including Queen’s ‘News of the World’ which featured the world famous ‘We are the Champions.’ The record breaking hit single ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ by Band Aid was recorded at Island Studios in November 1984.

One of the most memorable moments of the ceremony was hearing from Solomon “Sonny” Graham. He introduced himself as Bob Marley’s former mentor and Youth Club Leader at Operation Friendship youth club in Jamaica. Graham was the President of the club. “In a way I rescued Bob and gave him the confidence to believe he was a singer and could make a career from using his voice.” He emphasised that Bob Marley wasn’t a bad or troubled child but the mentor role he adopted filled the void left when one of Marley’s parents left to work in the USA. Graham said it was common for one parent to go abroad to earn a living and send money “back home” to the family. Graham also financed the recording of Marley’s first record. It was a pleasure to hear from someone who knew Marley so well. It felt like you were listening in on history. Although it would have benefited from being a tighter speech that more closely focused on the relevant points he wanted to get across, you could hear a pin drop in the crowd as he spoke such was the attention everyone was paying to his words. That said, he was a gentleman of a certain age with a lot to say and the organisers Kwaku and Nubian Jak had a little trouble getting Graham to wrap up his talk so they could get to the unveiling on time … before sunrise even!

Nubian Jak, Kwaku, Emma Dent Coad MP, Mayor Cllr Pascall, Jay Mastin & Dr Margaret Busby OBE

The evening climaxed with the unveiling of the Blue heritage plaque by renowned producer and owner of SARM West studios Trevor Horn who said “I am very pleased to see a Blue plaque going up on the side of the old SARM West Studios. So much great music was made in the building while it was open for over 50 years as a recording studio. This plaque commemorates my late wife Jill Sinclair who was a long time supporter of the local Jamaican company. She would be happy to see the community being recognised for the music culture brought to the local area.”

It was lovely to hear such an illustrious figure as Trevor Horn talking about re the history of his Island Studios and for instance how it used to be frequented by those he referred to as somewhat shady characters and thus, to him, it looked a little out of place to see someone of the stature of the late George Michael entering the building to record his music. His smash hit debut solo album ‘Faith’ was largely recorded there and in Denmark.

Anthony Wall, Director of BBC documentary ‘Arena: Exodus 30 Years On’, was in attendance and said: “The Wailers are honorary Londoners, they changed the world and their legacy has massively enriched our city. It’s so right that they’re to be celebrated with this plaque and truly apt that it should be at Basing Street, home to so much great music from Island Records.”

Co-organiser Kwaku of BritishBlackMusic.com/Black Music Congress (BBM/BMC), said: “Although the genius of reggae started in Jamaica, I’m glad that we are recognising the London site where the Wailers’ first albums for Island Records were enhanced and mixed, and also the contribution of the British record company that made the Wailers, and Bob Marley in particular, world superstars.

It’s not just a Jamaican story but very much a British story thanks to Chris Blackwell of Islands Records having the confidence to give the band money and tell them to go to Jamaica and record the Burnin and Exodus albums. The world had never heard anything like this. Island Records financed their breakthrough albums leading to them gaining international fame. Both were remixed and finished at SARM.”

Co-organiser Dr Jak Beula CEO of the Nubian Jak Community Trust, said: “In October 2006, with the support of Rita Marley and the Mayor of London, we unveiled the first blue plaque to Bob Marley in Europe. At the time I said about Nubian Jak that “this could be the second trumpet”. 47 plaques later, 2 statues, a board game series with app, and a new groundbreaking documentary in the offing… it still might be!”

Out of more than 900 blue plaques across London, only 4% are dedicated to black and Asian individuals. This is now the 4th to Bob Marley and The Wailers in London. The three others are at Flat 34 Ridgmount Gardens, central London, the place where he first stayed in London; a house he stayed at in The Circle, Neasden, North West London and 42 Oakley Street, Chelsea.

Following the unveiling, many attendees partied the night away at the after party at the nearby Mau Mau Bar on Portobello Road where organisers and hosts Nubian Jak and Kwaku played songs from Exodus and Burnin Fire. So many were packed in the venue it was somewhat overcrowded and a far bigger hall or venue would have been more fitting such as the nearby Tabernacle. It was overall though a fitting finale and musical tribute to Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh and Bob Marley, for without their creative, original and groundbreaking music this memorable evening would not have been possible.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

Photographs courtesy of Thabo Jaiyesimi

Links:

  1. No Woman No Cry sung by Alexander D Great on Basing Street, London W11 4th October 2019 – Courtesy of Sandy Loewenthal
  2. History of Sarm Music Village – Sarm Music Village
  3. ‘Exodus’: Behind The Bob Marley Classic That Still Inspires Movements – By David Sinclair for Udiscovermusic.com
  4. Marley The Movie Stirs it Up – Tiemo review – 31st May 2012
  5. Yardie The Movie – Tiemo review – 3rd September 2018

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The Typical Review

The Typical Review
Star Rating: *****
Soho Theatre – Upstairs
21 Dean Street, London W13 3NE
Review Date: 25th September 2019

3rd – 28th September 2019, 14.45pm & 19.15pm (60 minutes). Tickets and information. Sold out. Returns only.

Starring: Richard Blackwood
Writer: Ryan Calais Cameron
Director: Anastasia Osei-Kuffour
Presented by: Nouveau Riche in association with Soho Theatre, HOME Manchester supported by Talawa and tiata fahodzi

The hard hitting new play Typical is in many ways typical of a man’s life, a Black man’s life in particular, in so many ways – how he is perceived by society – women, white men, his peer and the authorities. Yet, at the same time the finale is anything but typical.

The play stars Richard Blackwood in, somewhat surprisingly, his first show at London’s Soho Theatre. Typical is a concise one hour, one man show that takes you through 24 hours of what seems to be a fairly ordinary day and night out that heads inexorably towards a dramatic denoument.

Richard Blackwood

It’s based on the real life story of former paratrooper Christopher Alder, so if you recall his story you’ll know what happens. For those who don’t I won’t spoil it.

Richard Blackwood turns in anything but a stereotypical Richard Blackwood performance. It’s powerful, emotional and really takes you on a journey. The trademark humour and moves are there in the early acts of the play, but in the main Blackwood is playing it straight and is wholly convincing as a late 30’s guy looking forward to a night out on the town with the lads.

Making the wrong decisions can have bad consequences.  Making the right one’s can still have unexpected consequences. What’s a man to do?

The build up to to the night out was interesting in highlighting men’s shifting priorities as they get older. Blackwood is undettered. He is determined in his ambition and heads out for a good night out to let his hair down and enjoy good music and dancing at a town centre night club.

Blackwood acts alone yet is highly effective in vividly creating the impression of multiple characters being on stage with him and acting out the various dramatic scenes that unfold. These included a number of tense stand offs as well as a slightly embarrassing one on the dance floor. The ex-soldier in him is tested by a group of racist lads. Will he be stereotypical and react or not allow himself to be goaded? The push and pull of growing up means decisions have to be made. The almost innocuous racism there gives no sense of the more serious form of racism and negative perceptions that certain Black men can face in society.

Typical is a tremendously moving, emotional, powerful and typically humorous performance from Blackwood that really captured the tragedy of the late Christopher Alder’s life. It’s a remarkable play from writer Ryan Calais Cameron and following it’s successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe 2019 and Soho Theatre I feel it deserves a nationwide tour and return to London.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

Typical is on until 28th September 2019. I recommend getting into the theatre early as there’s a surprise on stage before the show starts!

Richard Blackwood can next be seen on stage in Jamaica v The World presented by Comedy Warehouse in London W12 on Sunday 29th September 2019.

 

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The Gospel According to Nick: Christianity and Me

Christianity and Me – Nick Dixon
Just the Tonic at the Mash House
Star Rating: *****
Monkey Barrel Comedy – Venue 515
37 Guthrie Street, Edinburgh EH1 1QR
Edinburgh Fringe Review Date: 10th August 2019

2nd – 24th August 2019, 19:15pm (60 minutes). Age category: 14+. Tickets and information £5 Advance or Pay what you can on the night.

We all have a cross to bear. Nick Dixon wears his proudly as one of the few “out” Christian comedians. In case anyone was in any doubt, in his current offering he is performing the first pro-Christianity comedy show to ever appear at the Edinburgh Fringe this August.

Considering the UK is considered to be majority Christian (51%), non-believers (41%), with the next largest faith group being quite some distance away, Muslim (2.5%) it’s quite an odd contradiction that in his mind he perceives himself to be “doing something so controversial and shameful, he will be ridiculed and hated by the comedy community, his family, and most of the country… With the country divided, relations between men and women breaking down and mental health issues on the rise, Nick wonders whether a return to the principles of Christianity is what the country needs.”

Nick Dixon

The clarity to bring this vision to life was inspired by a dream he had which compelled him to write a show exploring his Christian faith. Despite falling church attendances and rising numbers of non-believers, the UK is still, as mentioned, a majority Christian nation, yet you’d be hard pressed to find evidence of that in Edinburgh despite it purporting to have more churches than any other town or city in the UK. I’ve found much of this year’s festival to be quite dark in terms of the language and material used by a a vast number of comedians, with many swearing like it’s going out of fashion and/or focusing on the more vulgar aspects of life. I’m not saying all shows are like that, more that many comedian’s don’t hesitate to let fly with profanity (whether a little or frequent uses of), which they would easily steer clear of on the radio, most TV shows or in any press articles they get commissioned to write. Not withstanding broadcasting regulations which they choose to abide by, that wouldn’t even happen if the comedian operated from a basis of core values that made regulatory obligations superfluous.

Christianity and Me is a refreshingly brilliant antidote to the anti-Christianity, atheist, agnostic negativity that’s been running amok in Edinburgh this year and for many years. Nick Dixon is positive, uplifting, extremely funny and unashamedly Christian. Though faith is the clear running theme of the show, he comes across as very down to earth, regular guy, who actually isn’t trying to ram faith down people’s mouth or try and convert people. He simply wants to be “the best comedian in the world” whilst remaining true to his faith.

He demonstrates that you can be on top of your game and give an audience a great night’s entertainment without resorting to swearing or material of a sexually vulgar nature. That doesn’t mean his comedy is anodyne in any way, shape or form. Far from it. His set covers relationships, dating, sex, celibacy and popular culture such as Love Island. The difference is he’ll discuss and joke about it, humourously highlighting his own stance on the hot topics of the day. The story about coming out to his dad … as Christian was brilliant.

I liked his quick wittedness, on display when frequently bantering with the two Paul’s in the audience at this show, one sat at the front, another at the back. Backseat Paul was quite a character and the two hit it off together so to speak when bantering about Christian dating apps and the like. That there were two Paul’s in was ironic as St. Paul is said to have “the greatest influence on Christianity. In fact, both Jesus and Paul seem to have equally contributed to Christianity. Paul elevated the status of Christian church as the body of Christ and the world outside as under His judgment. Paul’s works contain the first written account of what it means to be a Christian and thus, the Christian spirituality.”

Dixon described Christianity as being a bit like Manchester United. Once hugely popular and loved by all, now many seem to revel in trying to knock them off their perch.

Although many comedians might be anti-Christianity, when Dixon asked if there were any Christian’s present, that got one of the loudest cheers of the night. Maybe they’re not quite so unpopular after all.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

Links

  1. Why I’m Coming out as a Christian on stage at the Edinburgh Fringe – Premier Christian Radio – 13th August 2019
  2. Edinburgh Fringe 2019 reviews – August 2019
  3. St Paul the Apostle – Encyclopedia Britannica
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Tiff Stevenson: Mother

Star Rating: ****
Monkey Barrel Comedy – Venue 515
9-12 Blair Street, Edinburgh EH1 1QR
Edinburgh Fringe Review Date: 10th August 2019

Tif Stevenson: Mother can be seen at the Edinburgh Fringe from 2nd – 25th August 2019, 21:15pm (55 minutes) at Monkey Barrel Comedy. Age category: 14+. £10

How do you define being a Mother? Is their only one description – the biological mother or are other, broader definitions equally valid? Is it more important to be a good mother than merely have the title of biological mother, who may not be all that good a parent or even be completely absent from a child’s life? In a very personal and revealing show from Tiff Stevenson she makes clear that from her perspective, there is more than one, binary definition of a mother.

Tiff Stevenson

Whilst yet to give birth to a child of her own and recognising that that ship might be sailing further away, it’s clear that she is content with her lot. She respects and enjoys her important maternal role as step mother to her 11 year old step son who perceives her as mum. That she may not be his biological mother isn’t critical to the positive role she is fulfilling in raising the next generation.

This was a cleverly put together show that within an hour covered not only motherhood, but the fact she’s now 40 and the sound of that metaphorical biological clock is getting ever louder. There’s an added poignancy, for Stevenson had an abortion aged just 17. You sense perhaps the natural regret, with hindsight, of having been that close to becoming a young mum, but choosing to pass on it.

She doesn’t feel left out by this and nor should other non-parents she said as she reminded her audience of the meaningful roles out there for step mum’s, teachers, aunts and influencers on children in so many other ways than that of the traditional mother. It takes a village as they say. One might add that all of the above, except the ticking clock, applies to men too, as many of them, in this era of broken families, find themselves being stepfather’s to children.

Notwithstanding this more serious, reflective subject matter, there was no absence of her purpose for being on stage, for there was an abundance of jokes and wisecracks flowing non-stop throughout the show. This made for a superb, thought provoking night of prime time Saturday night Edinburgh Fringe entertainment. Stevenson’s wonderful array of accents, including American and Russian, were a joy to behold.

On top of this, Stevenson covered white male privilege – the kind that, naming no names here, allows relatively simple, now famous, uneducated men from wealthy middle-upper class backgrounds to repeatedly fail and still get further very good opportunities in life, which just wouldn’t happen if you were working class and female for instance. You might add the same applies in football management when the same faces appear on the managerial merry go round, unless you happen to be a black manager, when one relatively poor season at a club, could spell the end of your managerial career.

For a working class woman she’s doing very well as indicated by her amusing “elephant in the room” story re meetings with LA big wigs.

Although I found the show to be at times overtly crude and sweary, there’s a winning warmth about Stevenson’s delivery that draws you in, as evidenced by the regular smiling as her preferred method of seque-waying between jokes.

Stevenson’s keen to be inclusive which is appealing. She’s a strident feminist but at pains to point out that she loves men and that being pro-feminist doesn’t equate to not wanting the best for men and boys too. After all, what mum doesn’t want the best for her little boy?

One of the most popular, viral, examples of her feminism came through when recounting the story of the coffee shop tweet she posted regarding the Barista who refused to serve coffee to a pregnant woman as he believed it would be unhealthy for her. *** Fact checking alert: The NHS recommendation is for pregnant women to limit themselves to drinking no more than 2 cups a day so the woman may have been within this range. Advice from the American Pregnancy Association indicates that the less caffeine consumed the better … so on balance the man’s advice wasn’t misguided at all – it’s simply that he assumed the woman didn’t know (or knew and wasn’t concerned) and was about to exceed the recommended daily intake. ***  Stevenson unleashed a torrent of invective and humour re this ‘mansplaining Barista’ who she felt went beyond the scope of his role by issuing health advice. Whilst I’m no expert on the subject, a very cursory look into this does seem to indicate the Barista was correct and I’m not sure one needs to be a Consultant or medical specialist to know that caffeine can harm an unborn baby. Accurate knowledge on a subject can come from unqualified sources too, so it seemed but unfair to target him in this way wanting the best for one of his customers.

This was a very funny, riveting hour of comedy in Stevenson’s company. Whilst she may feel the clock indeterminately ticking down, it most certainly is for you too if you haven’t seen this show, as the clock stops on her run at the Edinburgh Fringe on Sunday 25th August 2019. Starting at 9:15pm it’s one of the later shows of the day, so if you’ve had a busy day seeing shows at the Fringe you may need some caffeine to stay awake – pregnant women excepted of course!

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

Links

  1. Edinburgh Fringe 2019 reviews – August 2019
Posted in Arts and Culture, Comedy Reviews 2019, Edinburgh Fringe 2019 | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

To Fall In Love – Review

  • Star Rating: *****
  • Greenside at Infirmary Street – Olive Studio, Venue 236
  • Infirmary Street, Edinburgh EH1 1LT
  • Melpomene Productions starring Beth Gallagher and Eric Casini
  • Edinburgh Fringe Review Date: 8th August 2019

To Fall in Love can be seen at the Edinburgh Fringe from 2nd – 24th August 2019, 22:05pm (60 minutes) at Greenside at Infirmary Street, Edinburgh. Age category: 14+. £10 (full) £8 (Concessions).

 

What does it take to keep love alive? To rekindle a lost love between a couple? We are told by Melopmene Productions that Psychologists have claimed that answering 36 questions can make two strangers fall in love, couple with four minutes of uninterrupted eye contact. Will that be enough to help Merryn (Beth Gallagher) and Wyatt (Eric Casalini) who are battling one another to save what’s left of their marriage, which has been horribly and potentially fatally fractured by a horrible accident.

 

TFIL is an intensely emotional, passionate and gripping play that makes great use of a fascinating, innovative and brilliantly unique ploy of asking and answering 36 questions followed by four minutes of  silence. The questions derive from a study by Psychologist Arthur Aron and others and are extremely interesting, challenging, stretching and at times downright unfair. However that’s what makes for a brilliant story as they are integral to the unfolding story.

This powerful, emotional play features just the two characters in the solitary setting of their living room and bedroom. Although both are struggling to come to terms with their loss and its impact on their relationship, it’s clear that one of them wants to re-light the flame far more than the other. The forcefulness of that makes it seem that emotional blackmail, bullying at times tactics are being used to try and woo the other, which feels a little uncomfortable to watch, but understandable in the circumstances.

The story and writing by Jennifer Lane is fantastic, a gift for two such talented actors, who are both terrifically convincing in their roles. They bring you in so much that  you feel like intruders into the private pain and struggle of these complete strangers, yet though you’ve only just met them so to speak, you are fully invested in wanting to know the outcome.  What’s intriguing is it’s not the usual sense of wanting the classic Hollywood ending, but more wanting them to come up with the outcome that works best for both of them.

This is a great play and if you’re in Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival don’t leave town without seeing To Fall In Love.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

Links

  1. Edinburgh Fringe 2019 reviews
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Shakespeare for Breakfast

C Theatre
Star Rating: ****
C Viva
130 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 4JZ
Edinburgh Fringe Review Date: 11th August 2019

Shakespeare for Breakfast can be seen at the Edinburgh Fringe from 31st July – 26th August 2019, 10:00am (55 minutes). Tickets £7.50-£9.50 / concessions £5.50-£7.50 / under 18s £3.50-£5.50. Recommended 0+ age group.

Most people like to read the paper, watch TV or talk whilst having breakfast. 200+ plus hardy Fringe goers preferred to eschew a lie in and enjoy Shakespeare for Breakfast, not reading the play, but watching a 55 minute, lighthearted canter through one of the great bard’s lighter plays, ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Courtesy of the C Theatre team croissants and coffee were kindly laid on for the audience so it literally was Shakespeare for, or rather with breakfast.

Shakespeare for Breakfast

A 10am start surely must make this the first show of the day. You may think a venue may struggle for an audience at that time, but that’s certainly not the case with this show as this was sold out.

As they told the story of star crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet I loved the running coffee shop and bread gags and how they shoehorned in so many pop song references including Wham! and The Police – the third reference to the band I’d seen at the Fringe – others included Me, Macbeth and I [Shakespeare again] by Clive Anderson and Milton Impossible: Milton Jones. There were also some fine topical Brexit material woven in to give it a further contemporary theme.

The 5 strong cast perform 20 roles between them. They included Roseanna Connolly, Emily Jane Kerr, Laura Beth Mortemore, John Oakes and Chris Thomson.

The production by the wonderful C Theatre crew, who also perform Dickens for Dinner (based on Oliver Twist) at the same venue, is great fun and a joy to watch. As with their other play it matters not to your enjoyment if you know the original story or not.

This is their 28th sell-out year at the Fringe and you can see why that is.  This was funny, warm hearted entertaining slapstick with clear appeal to a wide audience age range. It was a pleasure to enjoy another family friendly show in a festival where clean cut entertainment seems to be at a premium.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

Links

  1. Edinburgh Fringe 2019 reviews
  2. Dickens for Dinner Satisfies the Appetite – 10th August 2019
  3. Myra’s story – 13th August 2019
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Myra’s Story

Myra’s Story: Review
Actress: Fionna Hewitt-Twamley
Star Rating: ****
Assembly Rooms Ballroom
54 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 2LR
Written by Brian Foster
Edinburgh Fringe Review Date: 11th August 2019

Myra’s Story can be seen at the Edinburgh Fringe from 1st – 25th August 2019, 12:00pm (90 minutes) at Assembly Festival. Age category: 14+ (strong language/swearing). £12-14.

If the answer is blowin’ in the wind what was the question?

Myra’s story is a one woman tour de force performance from Fionna Hewitt-Twamley. For the duration of a football match without a half-time interval the audience are taken on a journey through the life of middle-aged homeless Irish alcoholic woman Myra McLaughlin living rough on the streets of Dublin. The Assembly Rooms Ballroom  in Edinburgh was virtually sold out for this Brian Foster Production for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with almost 350 people packed in to see this lunchtime play.

What’s so impressive is not just the high quality of Hewitt-Twamley’s acting , but the deftness and subtlety by which she seamlessly switches between roles, be they her father or other men and women in her life. The story has depth, pathos, sadness, yet oodles of humour, or craic, too as Myra would call it. The stories re her neighbour, Tina the Tap, always on the scrounge, were well conveyed and it was wonderful to see her play a wide array of various larger than life characters who coloured her life such as heavy smoker Big Bridie and her husband Jimmy the Tadpole, innocent little Norris the Gnome, and cross-eyed Matilda and her partner, Dublin’s hairiest man, Christy.

Myra

There are plenty of references to the demon drink, referred to as the beast. Her maiden name was Hennessy, which is also, of course, a well known brand of brandy. It was probably no co-incidence that, of all popular Irish names, writer Brian Foster chose that as Myra’s maiden name. You watch with fascination knowing that the beast has got its vice like grip on her, but you become engrossed to find out if she will escape the beast’s clutches and what next will happen in her life.

Without a fightback aided by support  those in her life (or rather not in her life) or from calling on a higher source, the beast’s arch enemy, Jesus Christ, you begin to wonder how this will turn out for Myra. We see little evidence of a practical or deeply spiritual side to Myra, though one is alluded to with the frequent references to Bob Dylan’s hit protest song ‘Blowin’ in the Wind.’ You watch to see whether or not she will be able to summon up the strength and will power to take back control of a life that’s spiralling out of control. Who will fight her corner if she she can’t fight for herself?

Journalist Pascal Emmanuel-Gobry best distilled the meaning of ‘blowin in the wind’ in  The Week (2016): The mysterious answer to the song’s questions — “The answer my friend / Is blowin’ in the wind” — brings to mind nothing if not the ruach, the Bible’s Hebrew name for the Spirit of God, which means wind, breath, and spirit. Genesis describes how “the Earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the ruach of God was hovering over the waters.” In the Gospel of John, Jesus teaches Nicodemus that the Spirit of God is like the wind, which “blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes.”

Despite the simplicity of the stage setting – one woman, one public bench, it was the acting and the pace of the story that kept you watching and listening intently to every word uttered from Myra’s lips. You didn’t need any more to to the set than that as Hewitt-Twamley vividly brought to life all the characters with all their colourful backstory purely via dialogue, acting drunk and periodic audience interaction.

However, at 90 minutes, with barely a minute separating Act 1 from Act 2, it felt overlong and could have been shortened by around 15-20 minutes. Maybe an interval would have been fitting so that the audience could join Myra and get a drink too – non-alcoholic of course for this was a 12noon performance!

Full credit of course must go to the writer Brian Foster who created the story and provided the raw material for Hewitt-Twamley to work with. It was some feat for Hewitt-Twamley to be able to remember so much dialogue without another actor to interact with. That’s rare indeed to perform in a solo production. I can barely remember what I had for dinner a couple of days ago never mind remember a 45 page script!

The show concluded with a richly deserved standing ovation for Hewitt-Twamley a standing ovation. That was only the second time I’d seen one given all Fringe (Simon Evans: Dressing for Dinner was the other). That was testimony to the strength and power of the moving performance.

If the answer is blowin’ in the wind what was the question I asked at the start? This can be interpreted in a number of ways, but I would suggest the question would be what would be the solution to Myra’s addiction, to life’s myriad of problems? Aside from the practical – AA, counselling, friends and family etc… I would go back to Bob Dylan and posit that “the answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind.“

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

Links

  1. Edinburgh Fringe 2019 reviews
  2. Shakespeare for Breakfast – 13th August 2019
  3. Dickens for Dinner Satisfies the Appetite – 10th August 2019
  4. Bob Dylan’s Biblical Imagination – The Week, 14th October 2016

 

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