Waltzing with Frances and Martine at the Swindon Festival of Literature

5 May
Paul and Hilda and Frances and Martine

Paul and Hilda and Frances and Martine

A piano dominates the stage, a very cosy looking sheepskin or polyesterpelt rug is thrown casually, but accurately, beside it. The Teasmade is on and the knitting has been put to one side …. Just for now.

Frances and Martine, dark, humorous and adventurous creations of Hilda Sheehan, are waltzing tonight and who knows where that glide and swish will take them?

Spotted late but somehow menacing is a metal chair with a seat of words and a back made from the steel of Salvador Dali’s shaven moustache, what will these two opinionated women make of that?
Timing was the key to the performance, with Paul Turner’s piano fracturing the language and creating darker, deeper impressions.

Given this musical conversation, the poems seemed even more like players, with Harold Pinter’s mental super-charged characters being made of biscuits and plastic for one night only.

A buzzing of waspish nastiness flits between France’s and Marine and what can superficially seem just funny becomes just wrong: ‘You will never control onions or slice carrots’ is control and disempowerment at its sharpest. Mind you the poems are still hilariously mad though,
Jill Carter’s artworks, lurk behind the performance, faces that are not quite here and not quite there, perfect for poetry and piano which refuses to spell ‘it’ out.

Eating dogs, The Goose that might be a size 8 duck and the raising of ‘great vaginas’ behind no knickers in the Menopause all weave the most uncomfortable patchwork granny square blanket ever.

Waltzing with Frances and Martine is a show unlike any other, apart perhaps from composer Andre Previn’s famed appearance on the Morecambe and Wise show in the 1970’s.

The poems are proof positive that poetry looks at the same thing as everything else but comes up with a different, more radical, response.

Are these dreamy poems and relaxing piano really dreams contorted into nightmares with lost arms, disabled dogs and cancer?

I see a future for this kind of collaboration, Lolita and Humbert Humbert accompanied by the drum rolls and anger of Ginger Baker?

For now, we must content ourselves with a truly different poetry experience which leaves us with a golden knob of butter at the end.

Words by Michael Scott.

Frances and Martine is available from dancing girl press. Paul Turner is the Artistic Director and Founder of Swindon Recital Series.

Waltzing with Frances and Martine took place at Swindon Arts Centre and was part of the Swindon Festival of Literature.

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