Monday, 23 April 2012

Cold comfort

I didn't realise quite how cold I'd got in All Saints Church, Aldwincle, until I got up to leave at the end - testament to how riveting a show Riverlands: A Journey On The Nene was.

In fact the atmospheric, cleverly-lit venue, one of two impressive churches in this pretty small Northamptonshire village, added plenty to the occasion, but it was the words of poet Jo Bell and storyteller Jo Blake-Cave that really illuminated the darker corners of the old building, and warmed the heart.

Taking as their starting point the writings of Denys Watkins-Pitchford (better known as 'BB') about the River Nene, they approached their subject through a variety of voices, including birdwatchers, boaters, anglers (they might have a thing or two to say once they've seen the show!), and of course local residents. And although Jo Bell's pieces, for example, seemed to work very differently from her work on the page, it struck me later that one of the things that was most enjoyable about the performance was how much it trusted the audience to sit and listen, and listen hard.

Further performances are planned, across the country, so keep an eye out, and go and see it.

A couple of things more. Aldwincle already has a literary claim to fame, as John Dryden was born in the village rectory. And I found myself wondering if the church was one of those that inspired J L Carr in writing A Month In The Country. He lived locally, in Kettering, and it felt like his sort of building.

2 comments:

belljarblog said...

Thanks Matt and very perceptive of you. Yes, the poetry is different from the stuff which exists only on the page - and by the same token, these poems can seem rather slight out of context. And also yes, we did ask rather a lot of the audience in giving them a fairly dense, wordy show. We decided to limit it to an hour for that reason, and I'm so glad you thought it worked!

Matt Merritt said...

My pleasure! I think that's one of the things I'd get at in a longer review - I might have expected some of the pieces to seem more slight than the usual, but they didn't at all. It all fitted together seamlessly.