Latitude 2011 – Day 3:
The metrological merry go round continues, Thursday mud, Friday sunshine – Saturday? Must be back to rain, and rain it did.
There must be some unwritten correlation between festivals and mud. Glastonbury seems to be in a permanent mud bath and, for day 3 of Latitude 2011, it seemed Henham Park was aping its bigger West Country cousin.
It takes more than rain though to dampen the spirit of the Latitude festival goers and, true to form, as soon as the arena gates opened at 10am, crowds flooded in from the campsites, determined to enjoy the day’s feast of activities.
An early showing at the Cabaret arena saw the anarchic world of Peenut and Ribbon, two hooligans who would struggle to find a brain cell between them. Slingshot Theatre’s Zanniskinheads and the quest for the Holy balls is a surreal mix of mask work, slapstick, and multi linguistics. While performed with conviction it is hard to warm to the piece or to really engage in the madcap plot.
In the Theatre Tent, Theatre Uncut presents the second round of their response to the arts funding cuts. In a strong showing, David Grieg’s offering particularly resonates, a duet performed by one actor with the audience playing the second.
In the long history of the James Bond novels and films, the Guildford Travelodge has yet to feature but, given Government spending cuts, it may only be a time. Whippet Productions showing of Jonathan Brittain’s Spy In Room 502 sees three couples in the hotel all tenuously linked with espionage. It’s a well-written, well-acted piece that tips a nod to the Bond franchise while providing enough dramatic drive of its own.
The Theatre tent also has a second showing of the Lyric Hammersmith, Spymonkey and Peeplokyus collaboration of Joel Horwood’s Jeckyll and Hyde(ish), It is not often that you get the opportunity to view a work twice within a couple of days and its clear the company have been working hard since Thursday’s first showing to refine and tighten this hilarious adaptation.
Rounding off the day’s theatre offering was 1927s The Animals and Children Took To The Street. A totally sublime mix of animation, music, comedy and drama this turns out to be the highlight of the theatrical weekend. In a run-down tenement life is bleak, children run riot, racism is prevalent and the only glimmer of hope is to scrimp and save for an exorbitantly priced rail ticket to freedom. Performed with absolute conviction and pin point precision, this is a show of infinite detail and a dark humour. As the standing ovation for a delighted and enthusiastic audience attests, 1927 once again show that they are one of our most talented and inventive theatre companies.
Of course there is much more than theatre going on and one of the joys of the festival is the ability to wander between stages and sample a veritable smorgasbord of entertainment. For some the weather caused problems. Emma Gladstone, producer at Latitude for Sadler’s Wells, reluctantly had to cancel her scheduled performances for the day on the open air Waterfront stage, despite the valiant attempts by the stage management team. It’s a familiar issue for Emma;
“I’ve often watched performances with my heart in my mouth; a couple of years ago we performed a 15 minute piece that eventually took over three hours to complete do to numerous rain breaks.”
Emma is keeping her fingers crossed for an improved forecast for her Sunday performances.
The rain has seen the covered stages doing a brisk business. An appeareance in the Comedy tent by Never Mind The Buzzcocks saw a capacity crowd spilling out into the dampness while the Poetry and Literary tents also saw equally canvas stretching capacity.
The weather was never going to dampen the spirits on the music stages but as the rain clouds clear the mood lightened and festival fans showed that a little dampness wasn’t going to stop them partying the weekend away.
Musically for many the highlight of the day was the headline appearance by Paolo Nutini. Nutini has a stong connection with Latitude, having made an early appearance at the 2006 edition of the festival. In a set that didn’t disappoint Nutini spanned the musical genres with a performance that gripped the large crowd.
Latitude has always prided itself on its local links and the nuturing of new talent and giving Nutini a run for his money as most eagerly anticipated act of the day, Framlingham lad Ed Sheeran wowed the audience with a set that demonstrates why, for many, he is being tipped as a future headliner.
So the rain came and went the mud got churned but there was never a chance that Latitude day 3 was going to be a washout.
All eyes now on the forecast for the final day – wellies and waterproofs or shorts and suncream?
— Glen Pearce — Follow Glen’s Latitude Tweets on Twitter @glenpearce1
Glen’s website blog: www.glenstheatreblog.com
Glen Pearce is based in Suffolk and his reviews focus on the vibrant arts scene in East Anglia but also cover frequent trips to London and beyond. On average he sees around 150 shows per year, from small scale fringe shows to major West End productions.
Glen trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama and has worked as a stage manager, lighting designer, box office, front of house, in theatre management and arts marketing. He has reviewed for the regional newspapers in East Anglia.
In addition to his own blog he also contributes to OneSuffolk, blogs for Arts Professional Magazine, contribute to UpTheWestEnd.com and is also the resident theatre critic for BBC Radio Suffolk’s Drive Time show.