Live music: 65daysofstatic

The Thekla, Bristol, 4 July 2009

65daysofstatic(Photo by seanjp, used under Creative Commons license.)

Power means nothing without precision. The huge, headstomping, heartshaking noise that 65days generate is shaped and sharpened by the extraordinary unity of their playing. When they speak to the crowd between songs, it’s with the relaxed tone of people doing something they love with friends; when they play, it’s with gang fury, bound by sound and storming the audience. From the first note of the set, 65days are incredibly loud, and they never back down – the audience cheers ecstatic throughout (but especially when Radio Protector and Retreat! Retreat! come out) and it’s obvious that this crowd belongs to 65days. We want them to be bigger, noisier, fiercer, to fill us with sound and make us a part of their explosion. The electronic sounds that squall on record, thunder live; the band play with huge gestures, guitar necks blurring and drumsticks raised high, but never with any slack. Astonishing.

© Sarah Ditum 2009.

Theatre Review: Romeo And Juliet

Originally published in Venue, issue 829. Venue’s teaser for Globe Touring’s upcoming performance of A Winter’s Tale in Bristol describes the show I review below as “triumphant”, so apparently my editor would have bumped the final score up by a star.

Globe Touring: Romeo And Juliet

The play might have a rep for romance, but the love story is the palest part of this outdoor Romeo and Juliet. Alan Morrissey and Dominique Bull in the leads come off second best to the physical comedy of their respective foils – a dashing, clowning Mercutio in the shape of Nitzan Sharron, and Marsha Henry’s bawdy, bustling nurse (although by casting the one black actor as a big smutty servant, the production picks up an unsavoury tang of Gone With The Wind). An emphasis on broad comedy and low violence keeps the play brisk and sharp, even though the lovers’ lack of spark means you occasionally forget just why everyone is rushing headlong to the crypt.

After nightfall, the production picks up atmosphere for the last two acts. The staging (featuring a VW Camper and two strings of fairy lights) becomes transformative in the dark, and the venue – an old bowling green, sunken and secluded – comes to life. The leads’ awkward imitation of teenage infatuation gives way to a much more satisfying portrayal of desperation, and the pall-bearing finale is almost a tear-jerker. But so long as you remember the umbrella and the picnic, there’s really no need to cry.