Street Theatre Reviews

I DON'T CALL THAT ART! - St John Street Theatre Company

St John Street Theatre Masked Characters

A lively farce, using larger than life characters, this is a fun and thought provoking exploration of what art is.

A rousing song 'demanding art' opens the show and grabs the attention of passers by and a good crowd gathered in the sunshine outside the pavilion enjoying their ice creams and the performance.

An intense discussion followed between two of the towns ladies extolling the need for art in the town, then a question for the audience " is there something missing in your life..."

Then meet Eric Buttertwaite who made himself out of fertiliser, and tells how he had a leaflet through the letterbox "is there something missing in your life.." and tells us that there is, that he has looked hard into his soul and seen something is missing, and also meet his son who is "dying of boredom already" in this town. Then we see the equivalent mother daughter relationship as Marjorie and her daughter argue, followed by an exchange between the two young people about having nothing to do.

Several of the company then appear in masks which must have been very hot under the scorching sun, to discuss the value of art, some claiming" its a waste of public money" and maintaining "we've got to be able to understand it" - "we need something that's a focus for the community" and the debate continues as one character thinks art should explore smell - "roses, honeysuckle".

Eric and Marjorie continue discussing the campaign 'is there something missing in your life'. And he sends her into apoplexy by telling her how important the campaign is, and she responds by flattering his business acumen.

Types of art come onto the stage next, including community art, sculpture, materials and craft, and Eric and Marjorie discuss them and ask the audience to vote for the one they think art is.

The developing relationship between the two young people weaves in and out of this, and then we see two workmen putting up a screen and discussing the culture behind it, one reckoning 'I don't call that art "and discussing more definitions of art. The action keeps coming back to the campaign, and whether there is something missing in everybody's lives, and weaves in the relationships as the two young people out on a date, bump into their parents caught in a close clinch. We end up at the unveiling of the statue, introduced by Eric, and a surprise when the statue is unveiled, prompts more discussion, "it must be art as its on a pedestal, and how it must move forward. Interwoven more by relationships, we also have proposals, and thoughts of a policeman on his whistle as art, and a twist at the end from a scrap metal merchant, before it ends up with another rousing song "we leave one question in the air".

Thought provoking, entertaining, hugely enjoyable, a production not to be missed.

Jacqui Roote


The Jukebox!

One of the classic Buxton Fringe moments comes on a warm summer evening as the Opera House is getting ready for the evening performance at the Buxton Festival; on one side people are enjoying the sun and a drink outside the Old Clubhouse, on the other the Fringe Desk is festooned in flyers and the orange banners flutter outside. And in the centre of all this Shakespeare Jukebox are doing their thing, as families, opera-goers and passers-by enjoy the spectacle.

For those that haven't seen it before, there is a chalkboard with a dozen or so of the bard's most famous scenes listed, three or four eminent Shakespearean actors from Buxton Drama League and a hat. An appreciative public throw some coins (notes and cheques also accepted) into the hat (all proceeds to Buxton Samaritans), they choose a scene from the list, and the worthy actors perform with verve and brio.

And it is great fun! Last night the kids present were loving it and demanding "the daft one" so we saw the Rude Mechanicals performance from A Midsummer Night's Dream a couple of times at least, the Nurse bringing news of Romeo to Juliet, and the scene from A Winter's Tale ending in the famous stage direction "exit pursued by a bear".

There's always room for some gentle crowd participation from willing volunteers, you may get to be the moon with the Rude Mechanicals, a witch chanting round the cauldron in the Scottish play, or even - if you're very lucky - the bear itself!

So if you haven't been before, you haven't had the full Fringe experience, so head along to the Opera House forecourt any time between 6pm and 7pm on 6th, 7th, 11th, 12th, 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th July.

Steve Walker