Saturday dawned rather grey and cold and with the rain still pattering down on the canvas (ok, nylon) I knew that my planned run up toward the Dyfi River was never going to happen.
Groggily we made our way up to the showers, only to find there was a hot water failure, which, to be fair, as soon as we reported it, they were onto it, and by the end of the day had a replacement shower trailer in place. Meantime, on a bit of a tight time schedule, we headed for the local leisure centre which is just two mins walk away and where hot showers were to be had for the princely sum of £1.70 each.
After visiting the very accommodating and aptly named Chimes, (just by the clock tower) who provide me with a vegan brekkie and Dave with the “full Welsh” we headed off to the YPlas Green to catch our bus for the “Train Gig”, thinking we had plenty of time, but as it turned out the bus was waiting for us (arrgghh) and we had to dash back to the car where we were keeping our day’s tickets safe.
The “Train Gig” is a wee piece of Machfest idiosyncrasy. We catch a bus to Corris Railway Station, then the tiny narrow gauge train ferries us to a goods shed, where several comedians are waiting to entertain us. As we settle on the bus, a reader of this blog recognises us and says hello! Helen is staying out at the Centre for Alternative Technology, about three miles out of Mach, and we chat all the way out to Corris and back, and bump into each other throughout the rest of the weekend. It’s all part of the charm of Machfest, bumping into like-minded people and making new comedy loving friends.
Today in the goods shed we have the wonderful Josie Long compering, Thom Tuck (again!), Kiri Pritchard-McLean, and headlining the gig is Nathaniel Metcalfe who is once again wearing his slippers to the show (continuing a tradition he began last year when he accidentally forgot to change his footwear at the same gig). We thoroughly enjoy ourselves, but it’s a very cold day and the concrete floor has numbed my feet by the time the hour is up and we get back on the train to Corris and the bus to Mach.
Our lovely train and engine.
What a fabulous gig is our next. At another new venue for us, The Vortex at the Y Plas Every Brilliant Thing, acted “in the round” by Jonny Donahoe of Jonny and the Baptists with small cameos from “volunteering” audience members.
It is funny, it is poignantly sad, we laugh, we weep several times (the lady “playing” the protagonist’s partner, gets very emotional over some of the lines she has to read and sets quite a lot of us off as well), and Dave gets to play both a nine year old boy AND his father in two different scenes (and he does it really well – I KNOW he’s a frustrated AmDramer!). Jonny is outstanding; there is so much to remember in this play, and it’s all down to him to steer it. Paddy (the aforementioned Baptist) is sitting up the back in support. The show is touring and hits Plymouth just next week; we have tickets booked already for a repeat viewing.
Off then to the Owain Glyndwr Centre once more for Bec Hill, whose first move was to get a front row mature lady (who turned out to be a head teacher) to make the sound effects to a book that Bec had drawn about different kinds of farts – a feat which the head not only did very well, but definitely put some real effort in! Bec does a good line in quirky stand-up, backed up by her artistic skills with large flip books full of cartoons and push/pull flaps and tabs. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Next on the schedule was George Egg at the Bowling Club, who very aptly, showed us how to make the best of the catering facilities in the average hotel bedroom. Sounds like not much of a basis for an hour’s show you might think, but George is very handy with a trouser press, kettle, iron and hairdryer. Unfortunately, the previous night’s lack of sleep, and the fact that we’d had to sit up near the back with no visual to the stage at all, AND the room was full and warm; I’m afraid I dozed off several times and lost the thread of the gig…however at the end, I could see (and smell!!) that George had managed to summon an edible three course meal with nothing obvious to have cooked it in or on.
We were to stay at the Bowling Club for our next gig too, Ivo Graham‘s Gentle Anecdotes Volume 3. We’ve seen Ivo several times before, in Edinburgh and in Exeter and have always enjoyed his quiet and clever humour. This show is still in development with Ivo saying there is work to do. It doesn’t yet have (in my opinion), the “wow” factor that his previous shows have had, but there is plenty of time to tweak.
Round to yet another new venue; The Tannery, for Stuart Goldsmith‘s Work in Progress. Stuart is a funny guy with a clever turn of phrase. He had the audience in the palm of his hand throughout, with seemingly no effort on his part at all. Far from being a Work in Progress, his show seems to me to be quite well polished already! Get it on the road now Stuart!
Once more we were upstairs in the Owain Glyndwr Centre, this time for Mother and Baby, a duo made up of Natasia Demetriou and Ellie White. A clowning pair who perform as a Danish popstar act amongst other characters. There was dancing, acrobatics, singing and nonsense, all very funny if completely off the wall. We left feeling entertained if a little bemused.
And so to our last show of the evening. Originally, this was supposed to be the Saturday Showcase, but, finding ourselves wilting at the thought of a 1.30am finish, and another rainy noisy night in the tent, we had managed to resell our tickets and once more we delivered ourselves into the hands of Beth Vyse, (True Vyse) but not this time as guests of Olive Hands – this time we were to see Beth, as herself, with a very different and still in development show.
However, first, before Beth came onstage, we had her friend and son of Olive, Ali Brice, trialling out some new characters of his own. Coming onstage in a hospital gown, shy and scared, Ali drags up an audience member who has to help get him out of the gown and dressed, which of course, he makes as difficult as he possibly can. We’ve seen Ali perform before, he has a brilliant knack for costumes, stage physicality and surreal characters and is not afraid to go the extra mile to get the results he wants. I’d love to see him do a full hour.
Beth came on to the strains of Rob Stewart’s The First Cut is the Deepest, throwing a large pink inflatable boob around the room, stabbing at it with a stage knife and getting us all to help her deflate it as quickly as possible.
Beth told us a very personal story of her fight against cancer. It is raw and emotional and is a well told tale, however if you are looking for belly laughs, it might not, at this early stage, be all that you were expecting. Beth is the first person to admit that she might need to put some more humour in, but as a big fan of good storytelling, I really enjoyed her delivery and it has a positive ending too.
We’d had a lovely, if very cold and wet, day and so off to the campsite we went, very glad that I’d had the foresight to pack our wellies!!