Attila filled the Petersfield room in more ways than one

REVIEW

Attila the Stockbroker – Petersfield Write Angle

The Townhouse, Petersfield

November 2017

Attila the Stockbroker filled the room at Write Angle’s November gig – not only with the power of his presence but by filling the space to ‘standing room only’ – the best attendance in a long time. He is a masterly force of nature. His energy is boundless! Whether ranting about his political convictions, playing numerous instruments such as the mandola, mandocello, bass recorder and violin, singing the lyrics he composes, or digging deep into his feelings about illness and family, whatever he does, one feels his sincerity and natural connection with the audience. With a full programme of gigs while touring the country, Europe and beyond, he snatches time to write and compose – he wrote nine songs in the previous three weeks!

Attila the Stockbroker, performance poet at Write Angle, Petersfield

You have to be young and black to rap!” Starting with Spirit of the Age, Attila rapped that, giving the lie to it: “I’ll be rapping to the day I die.”

With his deeply held political views, he rants….and rants. Looking back to the period when England had no monarchy, he sang of the great ranter of Cromwell’s Commonwealth time: ”I have been a ranter for nearly 40 years….but I’m a total lightweight compared to Abiezer Coppe.” More topical and poignant was The Royal Borough of Chelsea and Kensington who “serve Knightsbridge, not Latimer Road” ending with “Appearances matter more than flesh, skin, hair, muscle and bone.” There was also his Corbyn Supporters from Hell: “We undermine everything that moves.” In Rock n Roll Brexit, he chronicalled the formalities, difficulties and indignities of Europe with borders that he used to experience, saying that, if these had to be suffered again, “I’m British and WE HAVE TAKEN BACK CONTROL!”

In addition to his politics, what we also get is Attila the loving family man. In Never Too Late, his tribute to his stepfather, he tells: “You were the head of the household, I was the stroppy kid”, as a chorus to “Here’s a poem I wrote for you, you decent, gentle man”; ending with “It’s never too late to tell anyone you love them.” It’s no wonder Attila has a fan club of over 6000 people!

At the open mic, newcomer Dick Senior had Referendum in which “John Major’s bastards bided their time” until they were “probing the cracks in Cameron weak”. Still political, he followed with A Famous Old Etonian, where he described Boris as “the Bullingdon” bore with “Government by the Etonians, for the Etonians”. Another newcomer, Denys Whitley, told of schooldays in Ireland with Rabbit Killers, recounting the grisley details of skinning the rabbit then “march back in triumph past the younger kids, holding up the fur and tail”. In Heliport, he told of the solar wind and the edge of the solar system – a physics lecture beyond the capability of this reviewer!

In Rosary, Sue Spiers itemised the things to pack for a holiday in Spain, if that will be possible after Brexit, ending with “Hale holiday, full of gin!” Then, in November 1987 she looked back to the devastation caused by the “worst storm in my recollection” to oak trees and people’s lives. Richard Hawtree’s My Tongue was a version of an early Irish poem about Cormac the king of Tara, in which, all the experiences of childhood, “seduced my tongue to what I’ve left half said”. Colin Eveleigh A Brush With Life paid tribute to his father, “He was never still, mostly silent and ever resourceful, my Dad”, painting everything, even his bicycle, in battleship grey – “was there no end to this dubious stash?” A keen potter, Colin tells, in Pressing the Button Marked Fire “like diving into a volcano” of the excitement of giving birth to new objects that leave to go to new homes but “Those that didn’t make it, I love you even more”.

In Leah Cohen’s Winter ,“Please, bury my feelings. Freeze them till the Spring”. In Child’s Tale, “You love to edit the tale of my life and credit yourself as if you’d written the contents” while in My Selves , she read of meeting her selves in different places including a traffic jam on a busy day, ending with “maybe it’s time we met…”. Jilly Funnell, with guitar, did a duet with Phyllida Carr, on bongo drums – a lovely tribute to Jimmy Lee, WA’s October guest. Then Jilly sang her raunchy Principle Boy, about Cinderella’s disappointment when Prince Charming took ‘his’ tights off, the consolation being “her sisters might be ugly but at least they’re boys.” Richard Lanchester’s Age of Enlightenment was dedicated to poet Heathcote Williams, telling how everyone says, “We got to have more” but all his things are second-hand -”I’m not part of the rush to buy the newest, the latest.”

Andy, from Hoyk in the Scottish Borders menaced your reviewer with talk of imminent class war; then, in The Lonely Man Contemplates His Non-existence, he gave a truly lyrical description of a walk in the rain and mist with his girl, who asked, “have you ever run with your eyes closed without being in control of yourself?” Fearfully he did it and then, while she ran towards him, “I saw every blade of grass spring from her footsteps”. Another newcomer, Bethan Screen, in Sweetheart told how “being a young girl is to be visible and commodified”, and that the attentions of men are “a dripping tap that whisper, whistle and shout.” and after any incident, “you wish you could have reacted in a different, more intelligent and effective way.”

Isabelle Sene, operated on for breast cancer, told of her experience adding humour to lighten it such as when the nurse kissed her before the operation, her father said, ‘They never did that to me!’ She also told of how, when “the consultant marked the breast to be removed, he leaned on her right breast , to which she screamed, ‘NO, THE LEFT’ ‘sorry’ he said, ‘I’m having one of those days when everything goes wrong’!”

Jezz closed off a great evening, singing Cadillac Dream and High and Dry, both very emotionally and sensitively rendered.

There were several raffle prizes, the first a voucher for two meals at fine Italian restaurant, La Piazetta; the second, Attilla very kindly offered his book Undaunted, and third and fourth were vouchers Leah & your reviewer offered, for the Spice Lounge Indian restaurant.

It was a deeply charged, memorable evening with the outstanding and formidable Attila together with a wealth of talent from new and regular open mikers and an appreciative audience expressing their gratitude and still laughing, as they left the room.

Write Angle will be presenting the very confident and comic performance poet, Paul Lyalls, on December 19 for Write Angle’s Christmas special. There will be another open mic spot for anyone to read/perform a poem, song or piece of prose.

Jake Claret

The Seeing Eye photography exhibition – Farnham Pottery

Farnham Pottery is not only a place to learn how to throw a pot, do some life drawing or write a masterpiece (to mention just a few of their programmes) it also makes an engaging exhibition space. At the latest exhibition – Seeing Eye – Responding to the environment – works by six photographers are given extra dimension by being displayed on walls and in corners that seem to hum with almost 150 years of creativity.

The six photographers are varied but fit together neatly. Headlining is Jacqui Hurst who delights in gardens and urban areas colonised by unexpected plants and will return to the same spot time and again to find the right light and the composition that works to create her beautiful  work. Angela Shaw also turns to nature for her inspiration and works as an “environmental artist”.

“I am not a photographer, I am an artist working with light,” she says. She has created intriguing installations, placing items in Alice Holt Forest and playing around with them then photographing them, and also uses pinhole cameras to take pictures over months, something that allows her to capture the changing seasons.

“It’s about slowing down to spend time in nature,” she says.

In contrast, Hugh Rawson literally “shoots from the hip”. A headteacher at a local school, Hugh turned to street photography in recent years as a creative outlet and is particularly drawn to urban environments where, camera on his hip, he takes thousands of pictures from which he chooses just a few. He chooses well. The results are cool, compelling glimpses of lives, mostly in black and white, which leave you wanting more.

Mike Green, on the other hand, also produces black and white film but works the old way – 36 prints per film, each shot lovingly often after a long wait. “I often find a spot which speaks to me as a place and then I wait for perhaps a couple of hours and I see how people interact with that space.” The results are little stories which draw the viewer in.

Luke Whatley-Bigg takes a different angle – usually from the sky. Just 13 years old, he specialises in drone photography and takes his drone out to local landmarks where somehow me manages to hold the drone steady and work out exactly the right angle for stunning photographs. He is certainly a name to watch.

Finally, Wrecclesam resident Miriam Windsor is exhibiting six intensely personal photographs of women who have suffered from post-natal depression, alongside letters written by the present-day women to their former selves. Among them is a picture of Miriam herself and it is photography which helped her to find a sense of herself when she was ill after the birth of her daughter 10 years ago. The portraits are regal, like ones you might find on the walls of a stately home, the letters are intensely moving and the combination is a reminder of both the dignity and the fragility of human life.

The exhibition continues until December 7. For details see www.thefarnhampottery.co.uk or call 07733 325138.

By Stella Wiseman

Great entertainment, in a bonkers kind of way!

REVIEW

The Game’s Afoot (Cheriton Players) 

Cheriton Village Hall

November 15-18 2017

It seemed so appropriate for Love Theatre Day to spend it in the lively company of Cheriton Players cheered enthusiastically by a supportive audience: local people putting on great entertainment at a sell out venue for local people.

And great entertainment it is too, in a bonkers kind of way: as with all things Holmes, some kind of belief needs to be suspended and from the opening to the denouement, this hard working cast and crew kept the action flowing, allowing full vent to the twists and turns of this “who-dunnit” written by Ken Ludwig. Not that I will spoil “the plot” for you, there are many red herrings along the way.

It is December 1936 and star William Gillette, admired the world over for his leading role in the play Sherlock Holmes, has invited his fellow cast-members to his Henley on Thames mansion for a  Christmas Party following an abortive attempt on his own life on stage some 2 weeks earlier. But when one of the guests is later stabbed to death, the festivities in this isolated house of tricks and mirrors quickly turn dangerous. Then it’s up to Gillette himself, as he assumes the persona of his beloved Holmes, to track down the killer before the next victim appears, or do they?

Helena Gomm has created an excellent medium for this talented cast as they pull out all the stops in this outrageous piece of story-telling. Pace is quick fire as it should be and laughs are a plenty as each scene brings more revelations and death. The opening of Act 2 is particularly well done and the ‘victim’ is to be highly commended for ‘their’ role being mercilessly dragged around the stage and pushed in and out of cupboards etc. Always a joy to see the use of this tiny stage being used so expertly in set design, sound and lighting. The lamps were particularly authentic and there was the usual attention to detail throughout, be it music, costume jewellery etc.

The performances were particularly well suited to the cast, each bringing a sense of fun and panache to the writing. Richard Perkins as Gillette, razor sharp in his line delivery and stage presence, was matched by the flamboyant and majestic Fiona Mackay’s arch theatre critic Daria Chase. Pauline Cornter was suitably dotty as his mother, whilst Katie Hinds also donned a deer stalker as a steely Inspector Goring. Claire Smith and Craig Robb were admirable as the newly-wedded couple, both with secrets to hide.  David Cradduck and Marilyn Weston, always good on stage, similarly secretive brought much hilarity to their roles especially as she regularly slapped him throughout the course of the evening.

That they all get on so well is plain to see, especially when all the cast were on stage together and all clearly enjoying themselves immensely.

That is what theatre is all about really – and local theatre does not get much better than this.

David Putley

Aladdin at Haslemere Hall in aid of Action for A-T

Join Aladdin and friends as they discover the Cave of Doom and meet the magical Genie of the Lamp on December 18 when this year’s panto is performed in aid of local charity Action for A-T. Audiences will be transported to the streets of Peking with songs, audience participation and slapstick comedy.

Taking place at Haslemere Hall, this family favourite show is ideal for kids aged three to 11. Tickets cost £8.

Contact susie.shillingford@actionforAT.org with any enquiries. Click the “Tickets” button to purchase your seats.

Powerful performances in this topical play from L and U

REVIEW

Playhouse Creatures (Lion & Unicorn Players)

Festival Hall, Petersfield

Thursday, November 2

Set in 1663 and written more than 20 years ago, Playhouse Creatures was brought bang up to date (presumably when the Lion & Unicorn Players were in rehearsal) by Hollywood’s Harvey Weinstein scandal.

April de Angelis’s play focuses on the first women actors to tread the boards – and it soon becomes apparent that they are the mere playthings of drunken boorish men who prey on them in the worst way possible.

All their hopes and aspirations are gradually dashed by the mostly unseen patriarchy, from the theatre owner to the baying audience and the actresses’ various ‘protectors’.

King Charles II’s plaything Elizabeth Farley (Zoe Maddison) attempts a gruesome abortion in a bid to keep her thespian job, while the ageing Mary Betterton (Eileen Riddiford) suffers the indignity of being sacked by her own husband, the theatre manager, because the punters want to see younger flesh.

The feisty Rebecca Marshall (Kat Wootton) meets perhaps the cruellest end. Knowing that true independence for a woman could only be attained by financial security, she is on the verge of becoming a ‘partner’ in the theatre when she is decried as a witch by a male pursuer who has cynically tricked her in the past.

On the surface the young Nell Gwyn (Gemma Lynette) comes off best, being offered a house in a park with a coach and horses of her own – but, of course, her good fortune is only available while she keeps her male benefactor (the king again) happy.

It’s depressing that the feminist issues raised are still so relevant but the theme of female subjugation is powerfully dealt with in this clever play. There are also plenty of light-hearted moments. Mrs Betterton teaching Nell to act with a series of clockface poses stands out as a comedic highlight – but most of the best lines go to Doll Common, a cockney backstage helper brilliantly portrayed by Beryl Savill.

Whenever the atmosphere is getting a little too dark, this down-to-earth character arrives with a caustic put-down or a wry observation.

The action switches between the actors’ dressing room and the ‘real’ stage where they all overact superbly, and the set is cleverly arranged so that the audience’s attention moves seamlessly from one to the other with a subtle use of lighting.

It was a brave challenge for an am-dram group to take on a play with such weighty issues that switches delicately between forceful drama and laughter, but the Players pull it off with aplomb. There are powerful performances all around the stage – although the few men involved in this production are, for once, playing second fiddle to a female tour de force.

The play continues until Saturday.

BARRY RUTTER

Free entry for Surrey residents to Watts Gallery this Sunday

This Sunday, November 5, in partnership with Surrey County Council, Surrey residents can visit Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village for free.

The Surrey Open Day has been organised to enable residents of Surrey to discover the extraordinary Artists’ Village founded in Compton in 1890 by the great Victorian artist George Frederic Watts OM RA (1817 – 1904) and his wife, the designer Mary Watts (1849 – 1938), to provide Art for All.

On Sunday, visitors can experience Watts Gallery – currently showing an unparalleled exhibition of masterpieces by G F Watts brought together to celebrate the bicentenary of the artist’s birth; Watts Studios – in which G F Watts created many of his most important works and in which Mary Watts held terracotta modelling classes for the local community; Watts Chapel – the culmination of a visionary community art project, led by Mary Watts; Watts Contemporary – a gallery space selling affordable contemporary art with proceeds supporting Watts Gallery Trust’s Art for All learning programme; plus arts and crafts activities (also free for Surrey residents on Sunday, November 5) and refreshments and gifts on sale in the tea shop and shop.

Also this Sunday, visitors to Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village will be able to find out more about the Trust’s Physical Energy public sculpture project.  As a lasting legacy of Watts200 – a year-long programme of special exhibitions and events to mark the bicentenary of the birth of G F Watts – Watts Gallery Trust has authorised a new bronze cast of Watts’s great equestrian sculpture, Physical Energy, to stand in the public realm as a beacon of creativity in the region.   Visitors will see the original plaster model from which the new cast has been made – the model is on permanent display at Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village – and will have an opportunity to hear the Trust’s plans for the project.

To enjoy free access to Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village this Sunday, Surrey residents must present a 2017 utility bill, library card or driving licence at the Visitor Centre.

Further information about the Physical Energy project can also be found by visiting Watts Gallery Trust’s website: www.wattsgallery.org.uk

 

Piano recital by Churcher’s College student in aid of MND Association

Madeline Plummer (17) from Haslemere will be performing a classical piano recital at St Peter’s Church in Peterfield on Sunday, November 12, 1.30-2.30pm, in aid of MND Association.

Madeleine is a sixth form pupil at Churcher’s College in Petersfield currently studying for A Levels in English, History, Music and Music Technology.  She hopes to go on to study for a music degree at university and a post graduate course in conducting. A gifted pianist, Madeleine will be playing the following pieces:

·         The second and third movements from Beethoven’s ‘Pathetique’ Piano Sonata

·         Prelude and Fugue in G minor by Bach

·         Reverie by Debussy

Madeleine explained: “I lost my grandma to MND a year ago and wanted to do something in her memory to help improve life for people with this condition. I decided to combine my love of music with raising funds for this cause and I hope that as many people as possible will come along. All proceeds raised on the day will go to the MND Association, and all donations will be gratefully received to help raise much needed funds and awareness.”

Motor Neurones Disease (MND) is a rapidly progressing disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. It can leave people locked in a failing body, unable to move, talk, swallow and eventually breathe. Up to 5,000 adults are living with MND at any one time in the UK.

Julia Beales for the MND Association added: “At the MND Association we improve care and support for people with MND and their families and carers. We fund research that leads to new understanding and treatments, and brings us closer to a cure. We campaign and raise awareness so the needs of people affected by MND are recognised by wider society.

“Almost all of our work is funded by voluntary donations. We rely on the time and generosity of people like you, and indeed supporters like Madeleine, to help us achieve our vision; a world free from MND.  To find out more about our work please visit our website or join our community on social media.”

 

Maddy Plummer

Russian cellist gives free concert for Making Light charity

Russian cellist Mikhail Lezdkan is giving a solo recital on Sunday, November 12 at 3pm, in St Laurence Church, Station Road, Petersfield.

The programme includes two solo suites by Bach; no. 1 in G and no. 6 in D, plus Suite 3 by Benjamin Britten (written for Rostropovich).
There will also be some short intervening readings from Milton’s Paradise Lost.
Admission is free, with a retiring collection in aid of the charity Making Light. 
Refreshments will be available in the interval. 


Music Matters – Way Out, Petersfield

Way Out is a young up-and-coming four-piece from The Petersfield School; Callum on vocals, Jack on bass, Harry on drums and Zach on electric guitar. The band have all just finished their GCSEs and are off to college. Henry Wood visited them to find out a little bit more about their music.

Way Out, from Petersfield

When did you start playing as a band? 

Harry: “Me, Jack and Zach started playing music together around the end of Year 7 and we had a singer at the time who wasn’t really right for the band, and didn’t want to play the sort of music that the rest of us wanted to. So at the end of Year 9 we messaged Callum who we knew was interested in playing music, and he joined the band. So for the three of us it’s been around four years and two years for Callum.”

What are the key musical influences for each of you?
Callum: “My singing influence is definitely Matt Bellamy from Muse as I like how experimental he is with his singing and uses a really wide vocal range.”
Jack: “I know it’s a bit boring but Flea from Red Hot Chilli Peppers because he is such an amazing bass player and a real inspiration.”

Harry: “I’m a big fan of John Theodore who is now drumming in Queens of the Stone Age but previously played in Mars Volta because of the amount of power he plays with whilst always keeping in time. It’s pretty amazing.”

Zach: “Mine is actually strange but I have a really close friend who also plays guitar and he is extremely devoted to it and is very experimental with it which really inspires me.”

What’s the writing process like within the band ?

Harry: “Well we don’t actually play any originals yet but it is something which we are going to start working on very soon. At the moment we play covers of bands like Royal Blood, Arctic Monkeys and a bit of Muse which is good because it’s quite a mix of genres.”

What are some goals that you have for the following year as a band 

Harry: “Our main priority is definitely to write some originals which we can perform and play a few gigs. We have done a handful of gigs but it would be good for people to hear some music that we have written.”

Where can people find your music? 

Callum: “I have a youtube channel which has some of my acoustic stuff with Harry and there are a couple of band songs on there. The channel is called Callum Hornby music. Also I’m quite active on Facebook and I put quite a lot on there so you can look on my Facebook page.”

Have you got any forthcoming gigs? 

Harry: “Callum’s parents run the Good Intent in Petersfield which is a good little venue and we have played a couple of gigs there. But it’s definitely somewhere that we will be playing again in the future.”

 

We want to hear your stories. Do you live in Petersfield, Haslemere of Farnham and are in a band? Are you a young local singer songwriter waiting for that big break? Do you take part in local open mic events? Email kat@lifemags.co.uk and tell us more!

McKellen returns to play Lear in crystal clear production

REVIEW

 ‘King Lear’ by William Shakespeare

Minerva Theatre, Chichester

The first season with Daniel Evans and Rachel Tackley in charge of Chichester Festival Theatre is crowned with a memorable production of King Lear in the Minerva. Any doubts about staging yet again one of Shakespeare’s bleakest, bitterest and bloodiest plays are removed by Jonathan Munby’s exemplary direction and a fine ensemble cast, led by Sir Ian McKellen.

This production marks another return to Lear in the last few years. These include: Frank Langella’s superb performance at the Minerva in 2013, the somewhat disappointing National Theatre version with Simon Russell Beale in 2014, and Anthony Sher in Gregory Doran’s RSC production last year. In the current programme notes, written by the actors and production team, Sir Ian says that he welcomed the chance to play Lear again when he himself was a similar age to the character, in his eighties.

“I’m not the first actor who has wanted to return to this play, as if unfinished business. Perhaps it’s just that the closer you get to the king’s age, the more telling it becomes; for some, more a therapy than a job.” Sir Ian was a highly praised Lear directed by Trevor Nunn at the RSC 10 years ago, and this was turned into a TV film. Sir Ian also wanted to perform in the intimate surroundings of the Minerva.

King Lear embraces authority and chaos, misjudgement and madness, age and infirmity, betrayal and brutality, justice and injustice. At the end there is reconciliation but only when Cordelia lies dead in the arms of her father who is briefly finds humility and sense. But Britain is left in ruins, without government. At the end of the play Edgar speaks to our time, when untruth has become so significant in our world: ”The weight of this sad time we must obey; Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.”

At first Lear is an unsympathetic character. A quick-tempered authoritarian, used to absolute power, he is removed from knowing or understanding himself, his children, his court or his circumstances. Haunted by his age and a fear of madness even in Act 1, Lear is fevered with his lack of self knowledge: “‘Tis the infirmity of is age; yet he hath ever but slenderly known himself.”

And he also has a sense of his own senility: “Oh! Let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven; Keep me in temper; I would not be mad.”

For a start, Lear was mad to believe that he could surrender his power to his daughters while keeping their love and support, and retaining his authority without responsibility; that he and everyone else would be happy with his retirement hunting and roistering with his 100 knights; and that power would not corrupt his children and turn them against him. “Does thou call me fool, boy?” He asks his Fool, who replies: “All thy other titles thou hast given away; that wast thou born with.”

Lear’s anguish is mirrored by that of his servant Gloucester, an adulterer who trusts his bastard son Edmund rather than his natural heir, Edgar. The engrossing action works well within the close confines of the Minerva, whether Lear is celebrating at table with his knights, or out on the bleak, cold, rain-lashed heath. We were warned before the play began that there would be two hours before the interval but the production did not drag for one moment and time passed swiftly. This is a tribute to the work of director Jonathan Munby. His production is far bigger than the sum of its parts and he brings great clarity to this complicated work.

Phil Daniels exemplifies this as a Fool who looks and performs like a cross between Eric Morecambe and Elvis Costello; he is both witty and wise, whereas sometimes the character seems crass and convoluted. Some of the playing is uneven, and that includes Sir Ian. Neither Goneril (Dervla Kirwan) nor Regan (Kirsty Bushell) completely convince as the evil sisters. Damien Molony does not seem devilish enough as Edmund. But Danny Webb makes a convincing Gloucester and Michael Matus earns his laughs as the servant Oswald.

While it is a surprise to find the Earl of Kent/Caius played by a woman, Sinéad Cusack brings great vitality to the part of a noble who is both loyal to the king and outspokenly blunt (especially when disguised as Caius after his/her  expulsion from court). These minor criticisms should not detract from an extremely high-class exposition of King Lear, which runs at the Minerva until October 28.

www.cft.org.uk

Nick Keith