Thursday, May 31, 2012

"Debut For Debbie..."

Liverpudlian writer Deborah Morgan, was Malfest's** opening guest today at their 2012 Festival.
This time last year, I saw Jimmy McGovern " in conversation" with fellow writer John Oakden. We heard a superb reading of " Under Milkwood" which featured a talented sprinkle of locally based actors. SO I went along today for the opening of Malfest 2012. AND I wasn't disappointed.

FIRSTLY lunch in rather a swish marquee. This was followed by a lively talk from writer Deborah. Her 1st book" Disappearing Home" was published in March by Tindal St Press.
AND after hearing a juicy portion of it, I'm itching to read more...

Debbie would be first to say much of this novel echoes her own life. It tells of Robyn, who lives in a Liverpool tenement, who has hard times at home, who fears her abusive dad, but adores her darling " Nan". We meet her as she nicks tinned salmon/coffee...on parental orders...from her corner shop. AND throughout, says Debbie, she creates pictures of a community she knows inside out.

Fellow writer Alan Bleasdale calls it " a remarkable first novel". Jimmy McGovern says:" It's wonderful and compelling" and he " can vouch for its authenticity". Clearly this is a warmly welcomed debut.

SO YES, tomorrow I'm tapping into Amazon to order my own copy...

ALSO enjoyed in the marquee: a vivacious talk re Klimt from Adrian Sumner and in the Old Fire station Bistro: talks re writing from John Oakden and Diana Mather. A lively 1st day for Malfest.

See more re **MALFEST ( Malpas arts /Literay Festival, May 31st to June 3rd) at

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"Olympic Torch Welcomed In Chester"

 Here's the Olympic Torch fluttering down Watergate Street , Chester.
It arrived yesterday and I could almost touch it...although a jolly Welsh copper ( looking about 12, honestly) said: " Keep back, Blodwen....or you'll be a flame yourself!"
The torch was on its way to Chester Racecourse...where it did laps of honour on horseback. Earlier in the day it had reached the summit of Snowden with a delighted Sir Chris Bonnington.
Hoping so very much that all goes peacefully once the Games start in July.
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Friday, May 25, 2012

" Bruised": A Family's True Colours.

Posted by PicasaHere are scenes from a new play called " Bruised". I saw it this week at Theatr Clwyd. It's written by Matthew Trevannion and directed by Kate Wassenberg and it's the Welsh element of Theatr Clwyd's Celtic Festival.

"Bruised" tells of a hard up Welsh family living in a flat in Pontypool  ... AND it's an intricate and beautiful sketching of family they repeat and repeat and repeat...and there are glimpses of ways of both loving and hating...of harsh claustrophobic relationships........ AND although set in Wales, it reflects the sadnesses, the small precious joys of many families anywhere....

A grownup son returns after years away, a mother clings to her sanity, a daughter awaits the birth of a babe... whose dad sells drugs, whose dad is violent, whose dad is abusive...AND  I was moved....very moved...BUT sometimes, yes, amused......because even amongst the dreadfulness of this family's life, there was a dark bewitching humour... AND yes,  I was also silenced too... storyline, by superb writing, by powerful acting from a talented cast who showed us the strengths/weaknesses dwelling side by side in one small, troubled family.

It was heartbreaking. It was special. It was not what I was expecting. We revelled in every minute.  

Thursday, May 24, 2012


50 years ago, Chester Theatre Club ( ) purchased a Victorian school in the heart of Newtown. This was ( and is) an area of little terraced houses, tiny shops, on the edge of the city.
It was an inspirational idea and now Chester Little Theatre goes from strength to strength, producing 6 plays annually in this wonderful building. And the latest play, Shakespeare's Macbeth, kept the audience spellbound.I am NOT exagerating....

Hilary Egan directed with style. She brought murder, tyranny and passion to the stage, hooking us from the moment we entered the auditorium to find motionless black-robed bodies on the stage.
We thrilled at her use of mime, particularly in a banquet scene, ablaze wuith colour and movement. We felt included in the action as we listened to Vox Pop ( The Voice Of The People) when characters faced the audience, shared their thoughts with us. AND throughout, we the audience were enthralled.
Hilary Egan must be congratulated and much praise must also go to Jane Barth as Producer and the Directing Team of Jenny Shryne and Margery Alexander.

We saw familiar actors along with new ones. Toby Hughes, first time at CTC, triumphed as a young and powerful Macbeth. His performance will long be remembered., Faithful member of CTC, Fiona Wheatcroft, portrayed Lady Macbeth's descent into madness, gripping us all. Will Wood provided delightful comedy as the Porter. John Turner excelled as doomed King Duncan and the doctor, while Malcolm Gledhill fought a riveting sword fight with Macbeth.
And throughout,the silvery masked witches, played by Tony O'Byrne, Rose Eliot and Laura Smith, watched the action like voyeurs, rolled their eyes, curled their fingers, made us shiver with fear.
Fine performances came too from cast members: Chris White, Sam Bramhall, Adam Sabatti, Leen Belmans, Paul Williams, Tony Kemp, Gillian Blatch and Susan Eliot. Also three youngsters : Christopher Graham, his brother Mark, and Rebekah Bentley, taking the roles of Fleance and Macduff's children.
Tony Kemp designed a simple but most effecctive open set and music by Benjamin Britten and Arvo Part enhanced the powerful atmosphere.

THIS was indeed a spectacular production in which CTC in this Anniv ersary production, certainly touched gold!
Next production: "Art" by Yasmina Retza. Preview Saturday June 30th, then running from Monday July 2nd to Saturday July 7th.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Duffy At St Deniol's....

2 meetings recently with writer Stella Duffy.
Except Stella's not just a writer. She's a superb teacher, actress, raconteur-ess (?) and first class comedienne.

Last week, with a gaggle of LitFest Friends ( some little F "friends" too...get it?*) I  went to Gladstone's Library, Hawarden, North Wales. AND this place is a TREAT. See:
Once inside, you breathe in and you drink in its history..its characters too... and you relax UTTERLY..... AND I don't merely mean you'll loll UTTERLY on comfy leather sofas in the drawing room....which, yes, you will... and probably with a glass of wine or a cup of coffee...but the entire atmoshere pervades your senses....cossets you with its paintings, books, attractive juicy facts you'll learn... plus good food served by smiley staff... and there's green lawned gardens where you can read beside a fountain or a statue or two.....while REALLY having chance to Smell The Roses..

We started with an introductory chat from guide Helen ( she's also a friend and a Friend)  then we took a tour of the house, library ( brimming with Gladstone's books, some annotated by himself) lunch and a talk with Ms Duffy.

AND THIS talk proved such fun that we twisted her arm ( both arms, probably) BUT result was we went back to Hawarden on Mon.... where Stella  cheerfully led a great workshop for us...
SO Stella, if you read this, thankyou and hope you'll visit Chester LitFest.... of these days...

* Sorry, Folks, not being condescending, just being silly...
** AND I 've just finished novel in picture. London characters, their friendships, community. Brilliant word paintings I loved. Place/people you'll care about.  I lived in London late 60's/early 70's..years later, my son lived in East London...and this book's a great refection of part of that amazing place..   

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Months and months and no postings. Shall make amends. Tomorrow?