Spoken Word Reviews 2005

F.PHILIP HOLLAND - More poems - With Some Piano

It is good to see Philip back on the Fringe again and with a new collection of poems. Now we can begin to see the development of his own authentic voice speaking about the things which interest him; the countryside as expected from someone who has spent the greater part of his life farming, music as also expected from a fine musician, but other sources as well such as curtains, and rhinos in South Africa.

Philip reads his poems with quiet confidence which is most attractive. The addition of musical excerpts introducing and closing the poems and sometimes between the verses serves to point up the particular quality of each poem and heightens our enjoyment.

A delightful way to spend an hour on a summer's day in Buxton.


More performances on 16 17 and 19 July at noon in the Old Hall Hotel


FREEFALL STORYTELLING - A Curse at the Gates of the Wind


Storytelling as a form of entertainment is almost as old as time itself. Yet few of us experience it after childhood. So it was a revelation to find how compelling a good story, well told, can be.

Adrian Tissier, and Simon Atherton presented a chilling tale of murder and retribution based on events that actually happened in 1758 in and around the Winnats Pass near Castleton. They skilfully conveyed how terrifying the wild Derbyshire countryside seemed at that time and how travellers through the pass were in constant danger from unscrupulous lead miners looking to supplement their meagre wages by robbery. As the story of doomed young lovers making their way through the pass unfolded we were held spellbound, helped considerably by the narrators' attractive voices. It is perhaps an indication of the quality of both the writing and the narration that nobody wanted the story to end.

The awkward space of the Orchestra Pit while not always very good for drama was very well suited for more static storytelling. And the acoustic was fine. This is perfect entertainment for the Fringe and we hope to see it repeated in the future.


One more performance on 21 July in the Orchestra Pit, Old Hall Hotel at 8.00pm.



The enthusiastic and entertaining Dr Graeme Jones has the tricky task of making Chemical Ecology interesting, but he manages it superbly.

In a whirlwind performance we are treated to an evening exploring how animals use chemicals for communication. As amazing as it may seem, he assures us that 80% of communication in the world is by chemicals and he parades a good few models of such pheromones in front of us. This is, after all, the same Dr Jones who led the team that built the Guinness World Record making model of DNA in Stoke in 2002.

We hear of Silk moths exposing their glands to attract mates by releasing a pheromone that is a type of alcohol and we see ants laying down trails of pheromones back to their nest for others to follow. However, in the true spirit of the evening, we don't just hear and see, we SMELL! From little sample vials we learn that the marking pheromone of bees smells of geraniums while their intruder alarm pheromone smells of Danish blue! Some we can't smell at all whereas others are all too potent - ant trail pheromone from the bum of an ant smells much like a human bum - yuck!

All in all we can't fail to end up agreeing with him when he directs us to Proverbs 6:6 : "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise".

Dr Jones himself is a zany enthusiast - at one point he swigs a blue liquid from a chemical flask while playing us clips from songs mentioning Chemistry while also challenging us to name one top 10 song that name-checks Physics or Biology (he discounts Wonderful World as it explicitly says "Don't know much about Biology").

He ends with a discussion of human pheromones and describes the so-called T Shirt experiment but I think you ought to hear it from him...

While some of this went over the head of my ten-year-old daughter, Annie, she certainly had her own memories of the evening, as follows:

'I thought it was funny when he said that he did experiments using ant-pheremone which he arranged in a circle before putting ants on the circle to see if they would go round it. Most of them did except a few thick ants that went into the middle and messed up his results! He showed it all on a cinema screen so that we could see things like the inside of an ant, which was cool!'

Dr Jones can be heard again tonight (Sunday) and on Tuesday 12th so go along and prepare to have your horizons - and nostrils - widened!

Dan Osborne