Produced by Jennifer Davis and Paul O'Donnell for Shoot Festival
4th to 7th April 2019
Shoot supports a community of Coventry based artists to create original works in all genres, and stages a twice-yearly festival, forming part of the remarkable cultural renaissance of the 2021 City of Culture. Taking place over four days and five venues, featuring raw new performance, and more developed projects on the 'in Bloom' stages, the festival presents challenges to the reviewer.
Apologies then to the Steampunk installation of Imagineer, the artist development award winner Lanaire Aderemi, the hilarious slapstick of Juke and Lake and the vibrant and energetic dancing of the Sahyadri Friends Group; and indeed congratulations to all on both theatrical and sound stages. The below can be no more than snapshot.
By Wes Finch
Featuring the poems of Philip Larkin
Directed by Connor Alexander
The Tin 7th April 2019
Wes Finch has been a stalwart on the Warwickshire acoustic music scene in the last ten years, both solo, as a singer-songwriter, and with a variety of bands. More recently he has shown a literary bent, recording an album of Shakespeare's sonnets set to his own music, and now turns his attention to Coventry born poet, Philip Larkin.
Four scenes from Finch's play with music are presented, comprising dramatized episodes from Larkin's life, his poetry brought to us as song lyrics. With music performed and devised by the Mechanicals, Finch's longstanding band.
Larkin is played by Steve Brown, and director Connor Alexander teases out a performance of lugubrious sleaze, as we see this deeply flawed and vulnerable man cart-wheel through relationships with the various women in his life. Jessica Rowe plays fictional composite character, a study of cool pragmatism and very English reserve, and long-standing mistress, Monica Jones, is played by Lisa Franklin with gauche and needy sensuality.
Finch's weary vocal fits the cynical 'This Be the Verse' perfectly. Musical arrangement are subtle and effective, a twin fiddle attack, the classical stylings and symphonic flourishes of Katrin Gilbert blending with the jazz and folk style of Jools Street, underpinned by Ben Haines economical percussion and the legendary John Parker on string bass, long fingers dancing over the fretboard like albino spiders on benzidine.
A superb performance from all concerned, keep an eye open for the full iteration of the work next year.
Written and performed by Susie Sillett
Directed by Jennifer Davis
Lighting Design by Arnim Friess
B2, The Belgrade Theatre 4th to 6th April
Sharply observed autobiographical story of the writer and her adopted kid sister, Rui, told effectively as a duologue with the clever juxtaposition of video footage. Sillett delivers a series of vignettes, each telling of an episode in their life together, from their first meeting in a Chinese orphanage to the present day in young adulthood.
The story unwinds in an apparently casual way, episodes presented in non linear form, as the challenges the acutely ill Rui faces in adopting to a new life, world, family and culture are explored, and Sillett gives a warts and all exposition of the fierce and often destructive love between sisters, and the transitory nature of childhood and family.
A dramatically satisfying and well performed play, from an artist to look out for
Written, Directed and performed by Katie Walters and Elle Chante
Produced by Radical Body
Lit by a single white spot, wheelchair bound Walters tells of how chronic illness, at first denied, and then fought, came to redefine her relationship with reality, how she found truth and beauty within the silences life imposed.
Her voice is soft, her speech conversational, yet poetic, cadences falling languidly into position, an apparently effortless composition, as phrases and rhymes tell of a deeper world, a greater truth. She dreams of an alter ego. asleep at the bottom of an ocean trench. Her secret self is shown only in glimpse, a barely remembered dream, a few bars of music that fade as soon as they are heard.
And then, in a quite stunning coup de theatre, she reveals the truth of her journey.
A series of exceptional theatrical experiences, and a festival and organisation now maturing into a force to be reckoned with.
There are only so many hours in a day and only so many gigs we can get to. We'd really like to expand our national coverage of the live scene as it remains the life blood of music.
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