You’re such a lovely audience, we’d like to take you home with us….

14 Sep


My Salford-Irish heritage sometimes comes across in very subtle ways…

The blog title reveals little except a reference to live performance (which I’ll come to in a bit) and the fact I’m currently listening to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band!

So, where to begin? I’ve been a bit lax in my reports on my personal cultural engagement. Or, if that sounds a bit too pretentious, I could say that I’ve been a bit lazy in reporting what I’ve been up to (in a creative sense)! Either that, or I’ve been too busy. Hmm…no, ‘lazy’ pretty much covers it…


Hic Dragones, who I reported on last April are running another potentially interesting and exciting conference weekend in Manchester. The group are quite enamored with the strange and the bizarre, specializing in small press and conferences concerning the ‘weird, the dark and the strange’ (their words), and have asked for submissions for that weekend, that would be around twenty minutes in length. They want some dark and bizarre fiction apparently, although they usually except non-fiction. I’m strongly toying with the idea of putting myself forward. Speaking in front of a ‘ready made’ crowd would, for me, be more daunting than delivering something at work (a college, as it happens). My Masters dissertation was concerned with the sanitization of the vampire in contemporary Literature and Film, so that could be the basis of a good (much abridged) piece, although not entirely clear how relevant that would be for this event. Incidentally, I may be bold and share the full ‘book’ on here in pdf format. Best that I check the rules and rights of such an action first!


I heartily recommend Daniel Kitson’s play Tree, currently being performed at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. I wasn’t familiar with Kitson’s brand of comedy, but I can vouch for Tree being a warm and occasionally poignant observational piece. To summarise the play in the words of the Royal Exchange: “it’s early evening, it’s mid autumn. It’s starting to get dark. And on a quiet residential street somewhere in England, a man with a picnic basket, arrives at a tree. A new show about dissent, commitment, two people and a tree”.

It was part of a great evening out this last Wednesday. My lovely flame haired date seemed to like it, although the fact a (not seen) character with the same name was referred to early in the play, and was also described as a red head, did cause a moment of trepidation.  In this scenario, there’s nothing to short curcuit a blossoming association quicker than a play being accidentally about someone just like your date. I’d think that was a bit creepy to be fair!  “Christ”, I thought, “where is this going??”, as I shuffled anxiously in my seat. Fortunately I had nothing to worry about, and it was hugely engaging and funny.

Tim Key, who played the chap on the ground (as opposed to Kitson, who was in the actual tree), arguably gave the more naturalistic and pleasing performance. But to be honest, they were both good and we both sensed a fair bit of improvising and overall immediacy going on throughout, without it being obvious. They really play off each other well, and without giving too much away, it’s a lot more thought provoking and warm than I anticipated.

I also have to mention that The Royal Exchange serve the best Twining’s English Breakfast tea I’ve ever drank. Maybe it’s the fact that I was absolutely parched, or that I was in the company of a glamorous fellow tea fanatic, I do not know…but man, that was an excellent cuppa. You know the kind;  where you put the milk in first and pour in the tea and it really (not nearly) quenches your thirst. Yes, I’ll admit, this has nothing to do with Art, Music or popular culture, but worth mentioning I feel.


‘Tree’, written and directed by Daniel Kitson, began its run at the Royal Exchange, Manchester, on 11th September, until the 21st September 2013.


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