The little island seemed to float on the dark lake-waters. Trees grew on it, and a little hill rose in the middle of it. It was a mysterious island, lonely and beautiful.
All the children stood and gazed at it, loving it and longing to go to it. It looked so secret – almost magic.
“Well,” said Jack at last. “What do you think? Shall we run away, and live on the secret island?”
“Yes!” whispered all the children.
- Enid Blyton, The Secret Island
I have to admit that I was a little reluctant at first at the prospect of taking Soften the Grey to Ventnor. I’d never been there before and had no idea how it would be received.
Upon arriving it was apparent to us that we were in an environment where we belonged - free to exercise our acting muscles and share our art with the town. The weather was good as well, which was a bonus.
I think the fresh sea air helps the flow of creativity, and along with the vitalizing rays of the sun, we were provided with the tools to make real magic happen – easily and comfortably, in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere.
That’s the insufferable pretention out of the way with.
On the whole, not one thing we saw at the festival “got our goat,” as they say. (Do people say that?) Both Nigel and I left
every production with much to talk about. Good theatre sparks discussion. Bad theatre sparks silence. Perhaps.
Notable mentions are curiouser theatre’s down the rabbit hole - an immersive experience into the murky world of mental health told through the use of poetic text and physical movement. Also of note was Angels in the River by Bonchurch Theatre Company –a charming and intriguing story of one woman’s isolation and loneliness. Both of these pieces had echoes of the 6FootStories ethos – ordinary people thrown into extraordinary circumstances –which is why we liked them so much, but they also revealed something fundamental about the human condition, which is a good thing to be reminded of.
As well as theatre, there was live music, comedy and art on offer. On the first night we enjoyed the hugely entertaining Knees Up – a musical variety act that took us on a journey through the space-time continuum with much nonsense and silliness, not to mention a jolly good sing-along. I can’t remember a time I’ve laughed so hard.
Oh yes I can. It was on the last night, when we saw Ventnorville at the Yurt in the Woods. Nigel ended up getting on the stage during a piece of performance poetry where he had to blow cigarette smoke into the performer’s face in order to create the right “ambience”. The fact the cigarette clearly didn’t taste very nice made his facial expression particularly amusing. Such japes and joviality.
I have to say that I would happily go back to Ventnor. To perform, to watch, to soak up the sun and sea and sand. And fish and chips. And cocktails.
So many wonderful cocktails…