Those of you familiar with the “drill”, will perhaps have guessed that I have recently visited Poole. For the avoidance of doubt, I also resisted the urge to indulge in any petting: heavy or otherwise. I suppose the whole “no bombing” thing might be a slightly sore point with the denizens of Poole, given the unprovoked attack on their harbour by Imperial Japanese Forces back in 1941. Still, they do say that tragedy plus time equals comedy: so one day this blog may be re-discovered and it will be a source of hilarity to future generations!
You will pleased to know that I was not in Poole merely for the opportunity to recycle some very old jokes in a mildly novel form – though I’ve done worse for even weaker punchlines. I should also mention that I have been to Poole before – perhaps as a child, but a couple of times earlier this year to visit the Lighthouse. I should clarify that this is an Arts Centre and would be entirely without utility in keeping vessels from any rocks, sandbars or shallows that might threaten them in nearby bodies of water. On those occasions, I was there to enjoy some circus – as Poole seems to be on the UK circus circuit (or one of them).
My visit on Saturday was also linked to the Lighthouse, but the building itself is covered in hoarding and scaffolding – perhaps to install the long-awaited “light” and finally bring some succour to sailors off the Dorset coast. While it is being rebuilt, the arts in Poole must seek an alternate berth and over this last weekend this was provided by the Roundabout. This is a rather superior “theatre-in-the-round-in-a-tent” – which I usually visit in the slightly down-at-heel surroundings of a courtyard at Summerhall in Edinburgh (just across from the Royal Dick). It is currently touring the UK bringing the theatre of Paines Plough to a (hopefully – of which more later) wider audience. This gave me an opportunity to catch a couple of plays I deliberately missed in Edinburgh in order so support the (fairly) local arts scene.
I saw two plays, with a perfectly designed slot for the theatre-goer to take an early dinner (the best kind!) in between. The two plays Love, Lies and Taxidermy and Growth were both excellent and shared the same cast of three. They were both funny, moving and interesting new writing – and made very different use of the limited cast. Perhaps thanks to my Welsh routes, LL&T was my favourite of the two – but I can heartily recommend both.
One of the cast, Andy Rush, seemed somewhat familiar. Perusing the free(!) programme, I realised that he is now the actor I have seen most often on stage. He also seems to have very good taste in theatre, as all four plays I have seen him in – the two on Saturday plus Hello/Goodbye and Jumpers for Goalposts – have been among my favourites from my recent years of theatre-going. In both of Saturday’s plays, written by different people, the poor chap’s looks are referenced in a disparaging way. The lad is liable to get an entirely unwarranted complex: for the record, he is a perfectly handsome young man and should not be investing in a veil (or sack) to cover his face.
Anyway, a very enoyable afternoon and evening of theatre: with the added joy that as I left Growth there was the glorious sight of the full moon shining on the waters that lie to the south of Poole Park like something out of a movie. While visiting, I also discovered that Poole offers regular bus services to the Isle of Purbeck – a place I’ve been meaning ot revisit for years (my last visit wa spart of my geography field trip in 1982).
My only gripe lies with the residents of Poole and its surrounding area. Here were two very well-reviewed plays (and not just by me) on their doorstep for the very modest price of £12 a pop and with the rest of the evening to yourself come 20:30, yet the Roundabout was barely 20% full for either. I worry that such productions will struggle to make the financial case for visiting the south coast in future given the poor turnout. As a result, I shall find myself forced to flee to a more cultured region – which would be annoying and probably expensive. Poole needs to buck its ideas up, or it won’t just be the Japanese bombing their harbour!