There’s less than a week to go until the UK’s politest festival kicks off on the sunniest weekend of the year (if you say it often enough it’ll come true, right?) and you shouldn’t let the presence of the Maccabees trick you into expecting anything so MOR from the theatre stage, where arts curator Tania Harrison has brought together a totally wizzo line-up.
Straddling the theatre/music divide is the National Theatre of Wales’ collaboration with poptronica loons Neon, Neon. Since closing the gull-wings on their John DeLorean themed Stainless Style album, they’ve been delving into the life of Fiangiacomo Feltrinelli, the Italian communist and publisher who finally brought Lampedusa’s The Leopard to bookshelves. Expect a multimedia experience that’s as heavy on the good-time synths and salacious biography as the abstruse politics from the super furry Gruff Rhys and Mr. Boom Bip.
Latitude seems to be the one place where Daniel Kitson lets his hair down, and even though all his hair has now gone, he’s still throwing himself all over the shop with four different shows (two of them performed twice) over the course of the weekend. After the Beginning. Before the End. is an unmissable blend of stand-up and minimalist electronics, with the D-Dog performing a typically intricate and indescribably funny monologue on the formation of identity and selfhood as he throws down some sqwonky bits of knob-twiddling. Sounds mad. Is. Is also every bit the match of his earlier work. There’s also Lucinda Ding and the Monstrous Thing, where he’ll be joining up with ace singer-songwriter Gavin Osborn again, and the premiere of his first live film recording (!), a concert video of It’s Always Right Now, Until It’s Later, accompanied by a Q&A session. Don’t expect it to be wrestling for shelf-space with the new Frankie Boyle this Christmas, but it still sounds like a step towards a wider audience for his material. Best of all, he’ll also be debuting the first material from a brand new theatre show. Anyone who’s caught one of his work in progresses before will know it’s likely to be a rambling mixture of jokes and mini-scenarios that’ll blow most people’s finished sets right out of the water.
Fans of genius one-man shows don’t have to just stick with Kitson, however, as Ben Moor will be bringing his new work Each of Us to the Theatre Arena on its was up to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. A search for meaning with (according to Ben) a fair dash of sci-fi weirdness, it’s accompanied by a musical score by members of Suns of the Tundra, who used to be called Peach and have that bassist dude who used to be in Tool playing with them. One for the pub quiz, that.
Completing the triumvirate of one-man shows you shouldn’t miss is Daniel Bye’s The Price of Everything, a funny, wise and heavily acclaimed unpicking of the twisted banking system that was a smash at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe and includes a free glass of milk. How good that’ll taste after four pints of Tuborg is another matter.
Another stormer from last year’s Fringe that’s pitching up in Suffolk is the voyeuristic thrill of PEEP, which offers a selection of rotating plays presented inside their sleazy black-curtained wipe-down mini-theatre. Some are new, and if the standard presented last year is anything to go by, they should be well worth catching. The setting gives PEEP’s writers a complex set of expectations to play against, as the audience is plugged into headphones and separated from the performers by a sheet of one-way glass. At Latitude they’ll also be looking for audience input, creating and presenting a set of freshly minted plays from the fantasies and experiences of anyone brave enough to offer their sexual history for interpretation.
That spirit of sharing fantasy and drawing the audience into the performance, perfect stuff for the TAZ of a festival surely, is what animated Forest Fringe’s contribution this year, too. They want you to give them your dreams. And then they’re going to film them. In 8mm. All over the festival. It sounds like a hipster Blair Witch Project, but it also sounds heaps of fun. Whether you buy the ticket and take the ride by offering them your own night terrors or just see Andy Field and Deborah Pearson’s gang careering around the park pursued by bears and archetypes is up to you. They’re calling it Forest Fringe Will Make All Your Dreams Come True, so no pressure there.
We’ve hardly touched on the massive wealth of stuff you might want to cram in around Kraftwerk and not getting in to see Eddie Izzard, but if you haven’t had a chance to see Dirty Great Love Story yet, a delicate sit-poem that won a very well-deserved Fringe First last year, make a point of seeing it. There’s a dark retelling of Red Riding Hood by the National Youth Theatre that should mine the story for all its tricky sexual undertones ,and a series of podcasts curated by FUEL that includes work by Victoria Melody, Brian Lobel and the wicked Caroline Horton have been installed somewhere in the Faraway Forest.
Tania likes to create a theme for her curation, and this year she’s playing with ideas of sexuality and neurology. It’s only a loose concept, and it’ll be interesting to see how the performances react to or against this over the (incredibly sunny) weekend.
The watchword seems to be mindfuck, or mind fucking, how our mind fucks with us or we fuck with our minds, how our minds control our choice of who to fuck or how we fuck and ultimately how our fucking comes to define our sense of who we are, where we’ve been and where we want to go.
Clear? Yep? Cool. See you there.
Main image by Mark Sethi. This year’s Latitude takes place from 18th – 21st July 2013