Thursday, 27 August 2009

Tartuffe by The Miracle Theatre

Is it cheating to see an open air theatre company perform in the tent at Sterts?

Not when the rain on the roof falls so hard they have to shout! These hardened open air performers regularly defy the elements but I worry about them hurting themselves when they perform their stunts on a slippery stage. At least we were able to see them in the dry.

And stunts there were aplenty in this adaptation of Moliere's play. The costumes were old time but the delivery was contemporary and according to my friends who know about such things the Miracle Theatre's interpretation is unlike any previous versions. That's what Miracle Theatre do - they re-vitalise already popular plays and turn them into something quite extraordinary, ultra-mundane even.

I particularly liked Holly Kavanagh's portrayal of Marianne's pathetic attempts at suicide when faced with marriage to Ben Tyson's Tartuffe, who was a very dissolute and slippery character. Ben gave Tartuffe a sort of louche bendiness as he rode the punches of outrageous fortune.

The finale was well rehearsed chaos - it takes a lot to do a fight and escape scene on a small stage and keep the audience guessing what's going to happen next. It all turns out well but - without spoiling things - watch out for the bendy ladder!

I believe their tour ends this weekend so if you get the chance go see 'em.

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Monday, 6 July 2009


It's not just me that's inspired by my surroundings. Gonamena is the tale of ordinary Cornish farming folk who experience tremendous upheaval when mineral prospectors come to their farm and turn it into a copper Klondyke. During the boomtime it's live hard and play hard but when the copper price crashes not only is there no work but no farm, either for the land has become poisoned. Emigration is the only solution to avoid solution.

This could be a mawkish and self-righteous account of environmental disaster and the Cornish diaspora but it's bloody funny and gets its point across without preaching -- although there is a preacher among the central characters.

For several weeks throughout June, what are known as the Gonamena guerillas have been targeting local supermarkets and shopping centres to publicise the show at Sterts Open Air Theatre. A gang from our row went to see it because one of our neighbours is in the chorus and I really enjoyed it.

For a cast largely made up of amateurs the standard is very high. As I pointed out once before on this blog, amateurs do things out of sheer love and the depth of feeling that the subject matter shines through in this production of Gonamena.

And because they are local, and therefore Cornish, they use the script and language to devastating effect and ably demonstrate the best of Cornish humour. The bottle boys and old biddies have brilliant timing and a number of people have told me that last Wednesday's performance was the best yet.

The performers are now going to have a little break but will be back from Monday 20th July to Wednesday 22nd.

I strongly recommend Gonamena to anyone who is in south-east Cornwall during this time. If you want an idea of what performance looks like, go toRob Frost Photography to see pictures of the rehearsals.

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