The DCH Blog
Marcus Brigstocke: Je M'accuse - I Am Marcus - a review - Friday 24th October 2014
Marcus Brigstocke is a sneaky fellow. Instead of his signature splenetic diatribes, he teased his audience’s assumptions about the show they were getting, with the simple pleasures of daft voices and warm gel on the private parts. However silly, this was still thought-provoking stuff - Brigstocke had great fun mocking the sensibilities of his Radio 4 demographic, shivering at the frisson of a West Indian accent.
It was an effective lever to somewhere darker and altogether more affecting, as the evening developed into one of self-effacing rumination. Without a hint of clashing gears, Brigstocke took us through a time when, as he put it, too much cake was eaten. Still jaw-achingly funny (not a figure of speech - after two hours of grinning, my jaw really did ache) he was nevertheless able to touch on the surprisingly serious issue of self-loathing addiction, albeit wrapped up in an expertly delivered routine.
As someone who has seen Brigstocke countless times – he is practically compulsory viewing on the festival circuit – I really enjoyed this change of pace. We may not have seen the mask slipping, but I think we saw it deftly moved to one side.
By David Vass
Spinning Wheel Theatre production of Mindgame - a review - Monday 20th October 2014
Spinning Wheel Theatre came to the Corn Hall in April of last year, with Jim Cartwright’s Two. On that occasion, I recall being hugely impressed by great acting and excellent stagecraft, and looked forward to seeing the company perform in a play that really showcased their skills.
Anthony Horowitz’s Mindgame proved to be exactly that - a preposterous twisty turny puzzle in the spirit of Death Trap or Sleuth. For the most part a two-hander, Joe Leat was particularly good as the curious author with dark secrets, ably complemented by Tom Leeper, playing a man with secrets that were blacker still. Setting aside a couple of early run hiccoughs, both of them had a sureness, and lightness, of touch notwithstanding the grim subject matter. Without turning the play into an outright farce, they’ve worked with director Amy Wyllie to draw humour out of what is, after all, a ludicrous scenario, enabling the audience to laugh with the play, not at it.
This was a fast-paced, rollicking rollercoaster of a play, a great example of what touring theatre can do, and quite simply the best night at the theatre I can recall in a long time.
By David Vass
Mark Cocker: the wildlife of a Norfolk village - a review - Friday 17th October 2014
Claxton, a small village eight miles from Norwich, is Mark Cocker’s home. It’s also the focal point of his eponymous book, which examines the wildlife of what he likes to call a small planet. It’s a description in marked and deliberate contrast to the huge projects he’s recently undertaken, and a reminder that nature’s diversity is in the gardens and woods and fields all around us.
Culled from 10 years of Guardian columns, Cocker’s book flits from year to year, but otherwise follows the cycle of the seasons, artfully showing how everything changes, yet also stays the same. The book was a springboard for a considered, thought-provoking talk by Cocker, a man utterly absorbed by the flora and fauna of his home. With good humour and an infectious enthusiasm, his delight at identifying and recording a new species of moth, or category of fungus right on his doorstep, seemed the equal to anything he had previously seen on his worldwide travels.
Notwithstanding the self-depreciating anecdotes about hoverfly weekends, the musings over prose style, and a good natured moan that people now think he only does birds, here was a heartfelt plea to treasure and protect the diversity and richness of our indigenous wildlife.
By David Vass