Barbara, heroine of Rosalind Stopps‘ hilarious but poignant The Suitcase (and heroine of foot based retail, and her own fantasy life too), was wearing a lime green sixties number in what may well have been Crimplene, and a faux Chanel jacket, finished with her Senior Sales Assistant badge. She was much younger than I had been led to believe by Ms Stopps. Julie Mayhew has Barbara’s toxic mix of self-importance, resentment and disappointment down to a tee. The atmosphere was cheerful and enthusiastic, with people rushing apologetically to the bar for a drink before the action started; the audience were attentive and appreciative, bought books and asked Rosalind to sign them, so we were pretty happy! Rosalind was also very pleased to have her story read in the company of stories by Roald Dahl, Ron Rash, Jon McGregor and Kevin Barry, personally I think it’s the company she deserves to keep, and I’m sure Barbara would agree.
The Berko SpeakEasy Company ( Julie Mayhew, Elizabeth Bower, John Lynn and Adrian Scarborough) produce a hybrid reading/performance whereby the actors move about between and among the audience and use props, but read from the page. The space is long and narrow which did occasionally produce issues with being able to hear properly and see without twisting around uncomfortably, but despite this they did all of the writers proud. My favourite (apart from Barbara obviously) was Adrian Scarborough’s rendition of Jon McGregor’s Lost Property.)
Sunday night was epic in many, many ways. You all know about our obsession with the Overground at Arachne, well, what happens when it isn’t working is hell on wheels. Shoreditch instead of being a 20 minute book read away, is an hour and a bit two buses and a half hour standing about and bus drivers not stopping at the bus stop even though you ring the bell… and that was just getting there…
Not withstanding the bad temper we arrived in, we thoroughly enjoyed the eclectic event, High spots Bobbie Darbyshire reading her Something Missing from Lovers’ Lies, Megan Beech’s high-speed slam poetry, Camila Fiori’s rather distressing poems about her mother, Julie Mayhew’s witty reading from her novel Red Ink ( I bought a copy and have been reading it – on the Overground, of course) Charlie Dupre’s bonkers imagining of Kit Marlow and William Shakespeare (ShakeyP) as duelling playground MCs, and Eliza Shaddad’s rendition of In the Month of January, a favourite song of mine, which is the most atypical folk song, in that although it has the traditional girl gets pregnant boy goes off with someone else, parents chuck her out story-line, there’s no chorus, no repeats, and the tune is this haunting uncertain little thing just like a cold wind.