Sunday, 23 October 2016

On Festen

Last night I saw the Oxford Theatre Guild’s production of Festen. And this isn’t a review. Because 1) there’s not much point reviewing a play once its run has finished, and 2) I know a small but not insignificant number of the cast/creative team, so any objectivity would be hideously out of the window. But it was astonishing - by the end of the show, I saw about four audience members in tears, and most people I talked to afterwards were too shellshocked to be particularly articulate about what they’d seen. And yes, I’ve seen a few professional shows that had this sort of effect on people, but only a few. And I’ve never seen amateur theatre have this effect on people.

I can be prone to hyperbole. And like I said, some friends were involved. But there’s a chance that this was the best amateur show I’ve seen.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Everything I Saw at Oxjam Oxford Takeover 2016

I think seeing twenty local bands between 2.30 in the afternoon and 11.30 at night was pretty good going, especially given that I took more than an 90 minutes for dinner. I saw the whole set of about a quarter of these bands, but most of the time I stuck around for around 15 minutes before moving on to see what was happening in the next room. I’m not reviewing anything where I saw less than two whole songs.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Such Hard Blues

Given its history, Nick Cave's Skeleton Tree wasn't the sort of album you could first listen to in the background at work, or in the car. I started listening to it at twenty minutes past midnight, and finished it around one in the morning. Music always sounds best at the border of sleep: vivid images spring up in an almost synesthetic way. The shapeless layering of Magneto's sounds becomes a series of small wooden objects placed on a table surrounded by the dark. The muttering, aggressive drumming in Anthropocene becomes a threadbare black cloud, perhaps made of pencil markings or perhaps of birds, floating above the song's space. The thick, slow synthesizer notes in I Need You become rising columns, made half of light and half of fat metal piping.