A thought, a story, and a monster come to life: Frankenstein on stage at Eden Court

Tommy Ga-Ken Wan
Reading Time: 9 minutes

 

  • By Cornwallace

[Unrelated Preface – skip if and as required]

It is a new year, a new decade, and a new, expanded focus for The Nettle.

Actually, I say that like it means something. I also say that like there’s a degree of solidity in the planning and clarity in the direction ahead, and that would be unfair on all involved. Us included.

At present, the plan – such as it is – is broad-brushstroke, but within that there’s the idea of world domination. Actually, less that, and more so expansion to include wider support for the array of goings on in Inverness. We want to promote and support this beautiful bastard of a place, and talk up that which goes on here. So we have started the shift on this premise. That’s kinda as far as we have got, but it is a pretty good start!

 

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Inverness fights above its weight in this respect of what there is to see and do. This is despite fucked up thoughts like Mad Hatters planning to become yet another fucking backpackers as the millionaire owner is sulking about council tax
(*Hypocrisy Alert* – The Council is fucking up a lot of things left right and centre at the moment in a desperate attempt to claw back the debt it fucked up so bad in drowning in the weight of, so maybe (most likely) Hoots does have a point.
It’s just so fucking sad that such an institution is playing games like this in order to keep sitting on their fat stacks of cash. The Council very likely are the ones stuffing up, but Hoots, please don’t go the backpackers route. It would be beyond shit. Stay a beloved institution. It’s worth more, and hopefully more money for you too! This is said as a plea/ vote for staying as Mad Hatters – take it as a positive opinion from a fan.)

Anyway, generally Inverness is a small place with much more going on that one would reasonably expect, punters just have to get out there and give it a go, especially – as the Hoots example above shows – should they want to keep the options option.

And it is in this light that the broad-brushstroke kernel of a plan is starting to germinate at Nettle HQ. And this is also a handy segue to the topic at hand – a review of a theatre play at Eden Court.

We’ve dabbled with a variety of events before, but this is hopefully the start of such things being embedded as standard practice. So no pressure on the below review…
Luckily The Nettle is not that sort of place. Remember this if you ever want to sign up and give reviewing a go. All more than welcome to ask us if you want to.

Actual Review

https://eden-court.co.uk/news/facing-victor-frankenstein

https://eden-court.co.uk/news/frankenstein-a-thrilling-new-adaption

The above are links to Eden Court and its promotion of the play whose run was for the better part of the last week.
They are obviously going to more organised and professional and such than this review, and talk of the backgrounding, history, timing, influence, etc. as to the what when why and so forth of the play.

They cover what the company planned the show to be. The Nettle, as is our way, give you how it was on a particular night, from the perspective as from being in the audience.

I’m writing this on Sunday, after seeing it mid-run. Eden Court were particularly unambiguous in their insistence that people did not film, photograph, record (and about 3 other highlighted variations, I’m sure) the performance, so the only photo we have is from shuffling in and settling down in our seats before the play.

Someone (well, Woolly Dermal, to be exact) said that to them, the play was very Escher-esque. Fair call. Let’s have a look:

So the stage construction – let’s go there first.

How they set up the space was both atmospheric and integral. They utilised the space for all it was worth, sometimes overly so.
See the trees (hopefully you can) that formed the front posts of the verandas – they milked those bastards for all they were worth. The cast were scuttling up and down those all the time. They were the only way to get between the two levels – sorry, not true, but the only way that was visible to the audience, and they were scampering up and down all play.

The thing about a proper theatre as a venue is how much kit that they have set up for setting the scene. It allows for a flexibility that meant that this basic set-up of the stage could be used for any and all settings and scenes required.
Lighting turned up and chandelier lowered down into view and we were at the glowing happy (at least at the start) home of the Frankenstein family in Geneva. The railing of the balcony alternatively becomes that of/ at the university, Victor and Elizabeth’s wedding bed chamber, or the railing of a ship in an Artic expedition.
Neon flashing tubes strung throughout and we were heart and soul into Victor Frankenstein’s laboratory, as well as the beginnings of his descent into – well, into what the writer Mary Shelley as writer and constructor of this tale decided what was to be his fate, in order to produce the book she wanted, in order to create the reaction in the audience in the reader that she wanted.

It is this point above about Mary Shelley which is crux to the understanding of this version of the play and what they were focusing on here which made it such an interesting interpretation of the classic text. I’ll get there in just a second, just want to wrap up on the stage setting.

The use of the space, the smoke machine, the lighting, and the mood evoked were excellent. I thought they overused at times the classic horror noise mechanism of the ‘jump scare’ – a loud flash of noise to frighten. However, these mostly did get the audience to jump and offered some of the most visceral scares of the play, so gonna go easy on this overuse. Maybe the use of such tropes being part of a reproduction of a classic is an important component part in itself.

Which leads to the nature of the play. As said by the character of Mary on stage, it’s horror, but mainly it is science. Science as fiction but in order for the fiction to better tell the truth.

However you want to classify it, Mary Shelly’s novel has caught the collective imagination for just over 200 years now. So much to be said about it, about her, about the context, how ground-breaking it was in a number of ways, how embedded in and part of the zeitgeist it was at the time. It is one of the most utilised metaphors, and reproduced of stories over the last couple of centuries as well.
It also happens to be one of my favourite novels, so there was plenty of incentive to see the play.

This production showed there is always something in the story – and importantly in the ideas sparked which sit behind the story. That it still has life in it to produce new – and importantly, interesting – variations on the theme.

I’m going to indulge in a guilty pleasure and stating that this production was ‘meta.’ Who doesn’t like to chuck that word out there!
The layers in it were very true to the novel, and the telling of it true also, i.e. that it jumps forwards and backwards through the timeline of the story.

There’s stuff I can describe in that, but would make the review longer, and you can get that info about the book stacks of places. This is about the production. In this play, this bouncing around of time is counterbalanced with an in-time progression of the character of Mary, writing a book.

She starts with having a great premise, and a setting, but fretting about not having a beginning to the novel. So she wheels her writing desk on stage and talks to us, as audience, for it is her audience that she is thinking about in her writing.
She says how she doesn’t want to have a standard story, such as a romance where they all walk away happy in the end. She wants it to be horror, but more science. By saying ‘science,’ please read that as the potential of it as understood 200 years ago. An e.g. of that mindset was highlighted near the start of the play, when Frankenstein’s dad encourages him to study abroad. The characters are watching a storm and he talks of the potential for science to soon be able to catch lightening. To catch electricity, the underlying forces of life and nature.

This scene set the overriding context – how the writer wanted to get into the imagination of her audience. In it, she had a patch of the story, then got writer’s block, so went back to this as the defining premise. The character of Mary also mused how she’d have to treat the characters in order to achieve this. Not pleasantly, as it turned out.

One of the elements I liked most was the character of Mary. Sometimes starting off the dialogue to have it overtaken by the characters, and being on stage but set aside, the main action being acted out while she is madly scribbling it all down, and sometimes voicing elements in tandem with the other actors as they come to her.
At other times she would cut across the story, or influence it to change it as if she decided only at that very moment in the creation process that she was herself overwhelmed by the direction of the story – which we are told is centred around the character that came in her nightmares. She would halt proceedings, sometimes pull them in other directions, sometimes let her own horror go where it would, with the risk to herself known and accepted.

They plunge into the concept, into the premise, and away we go.

This produced moments after in chat with pint, dissecting it as often happens after seeing something – anything – good and engaging, which this was. The idea of Victor Frankenstein in the middle of the meta word. Him on stage with his own creation, while also on stage with Mary Shelly who created them both.
These thoughts were bounced around with ones about the quality of the action, how engaging it was, how good the base story is that they were working off. Also how by focusing on the process of the mind of the author while writing the book and seeing the nightmare she wished to both understand and unfurl ‘come to life,’ as it were.

Which brings us to that nightmare. And what would this review be without any talk of the monster.

This is a hard one to grapple with in this production, for the answer is that the construction of it, for all the rest of the production value, was so so.
The acting was great – another thought shared over a pint later. There was the epoch of refined and cultured humanity represented by the Frankenstein family and their friends, and among this setting was the monster. For me, the character of Victor was played with great intensity and talent – seeing him consumed in his work, repulsed at what it created, going from delirium to despondency to desperate delusional deeds was seriously well done.
However, it was the character of the monster that allowed for the most intense examination of the vagaries of humanity. This was very well played out by the actor, however he wasn’t working with the best resources the play had to offer. No appendages, deformities or maladaptations of the body. The scars and all things representing his hideous ‘run away on contact’ terrifying ugliness looked more like what a bunch of lager louts would unleash on the first one of them to pass out drunk, should they have a bit of mud and a Sharpie on them to play with. Not bad, just underwhelming.

The character of Henry, Victor’s best friend, was also a bit of a disappointment. Again not bad, but the character was meant to be a stand-up sort, a positive and bright-eyed counterpoint to Victor’s decent. Instead he came across as kind of childish and simplistic. It was notable that the same actor also played the child brother William Frankenstein, and at times it was hard to tell which character was being portrayed. Apart from that though, performances were solid, and resonated well, including the other roles by that same actor, all of which meaning I was a fan of the production overall.

I seem to have a cycle of activity with theatre. I see it, think it’s great and swear I’m going to see more of it. Then I don’t and say it the next time, a year or more down the track. It’s a habit and this play reminded me that it is a bad habit.

It was between £20-£30 depending on where you were sitting, so it is reasonably expensive. But I am reminded it’s worth saving or splurging for at times, and Frankenstein was one of those times. The talent of the acting, the engagement in the moment, and the good turn on a great story made this an excellent rendition of a classic. Good on them!

*Cover photo by Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

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Highland Pride, Hector MacDonald, and How to Cover Up a Colonial Crisis

Powerful nonce
Reading Time: 6 minutes
 

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As part of LGBT history month in Scotland, Highland Pride have curated an exhibition in Inverness Museum and Art Gallery. While the exhibition on the whole features some fantastic LGBTQ+ voices, the inclusion of alleged paedophile Sir Hector MacDonald is at best disingenuous and at worst a deliberate and harmful misrepresentation.

February is LGBT History Month Scotland, and as a result Highland Pride are putting on various events and exhibitions around Inverness. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community and someone who’s lived in the Highlands most of their life I’m thrilled to see queer culture celebrated here – a lot has changed since I was a scared kid coming out to a world that didn’t understand and made sure to bully me brutally for being different. With this in mind, I was excited to visit Highland Pride’s community exhibition Highland Pride History – Past and Present at Inverness Museum and Art Gallery. Promising interviews with prominent contemporary LGBTQ+ individuals juxtaposed with profiles of historical queerness, this seemed like the perfect beginning to LGBT history month.

Boy was I wrong.

The exhibition is very small – but there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s decorated with a range of LGBTQ+ flags and is eye catching, crisp and rather aesthetically appealing. Unfortunately, this was where the excitement ended. I was immediately drawn to the profile of Sir Hector MacDonald; a Gordon Highlanders soldier and later British Army general who was accused at the time of having homosexual relations. What the profile does not state, however, is that these relations were with young boys.

Despite sections of the profile being lifted almost word for word from his Wikipedia page, all mentions of MacDonald’s alleged paedophilia have been removed in Highland Pride’s display. Words repeatedly omitted from the exhibit include “young boys” and “teenage”. The profile also states that MacDonald’s eventual suicide was a result of allegations of homosexual activity – again failing to mention that allegations concerned sexual activity with children. A photograph of the exhibit can be found at the end of this article along with a transcription.

The exhibition states that MacDonald had been “having a sexual relationship with two Burgher men along with regularly visiting a club of dubious repute”. This is taken almost word for word from his Wikipedia page, whilst obfuscating the fact that these ‘Burgher men’ were the teenage sons of a local man, and that the ‘club of dubious repute’ was a known sex club soliciting underage boys to adult men for money. [1] The Wikipedia page explicitly states both of these facts in the same paragraph the as the information presented by Highland Pride; providing compelling evidence that the organisers were aware of the allegations of statutory rape against Hector Macdonald, and chose to edit them out and publish a complimentary narrative about a wronged gay man instead.

Furthermore, these allegations are not merely uncited Wikipedia soundbites. Historian Denis Judd writes “MacDonald had taken advantage of the relatively relaxed Sinhalese attitude towards homosexual activity to become systematically involved with, possibly, scores of local boys” [2].

In Victorian Britain, legislation was only in place criminalising sexual abuse of girls under 13 years old [3] – therefore creating the potential argument that MacDonald’s conduct was not a crime, however I suspect that Highland Pride would agree that regardless of legality, it is morally and ethically unacceptable to sexually abuse children. This begs the question – why was Hector MacDonald included in the exhibition in the first place? The ‘author’ of the profile has deliberately removed all but one reference to sexual conduct with young boys, and the instance wherein it was not removed is ambiguous enough to be misconstrued as young men.

By celebrating MacDonald in a queer context, we suggest that his crimes are acceptable. Not only this, we heighten his profile – perpetuating harmful stereotypes surrounding homosexuality and child abuse. This is neither appropriate nor tolerable in modern society, especially in a political climate such as that of the Scottish Highlands.

Lastly, Highland Pride’s profile of MacDonald states that “homosexuality was not illegal there”, referring to Ceylon or modern-day Sri Lanka. What they fail to mention is that the criminalisation of homosexuality in the British Empire was due to British rule – a despicable truth that many former colonies are still recovering from. Why Highland Pride would choose to celebrate an Imperial British Army General whose role in the Empire directly oppressed the LGBTQ+ communities within the colonies is certainly a question which needs to be raised.

The other profiles within the exhibition are both interesting and informative – despite some spelling errors and questionable referencing. It is refreshing to see an exhibition which puts LGBTQ+ folks, especially transgender people, at the forefront when they’ve found themselves persecuted for centuries for simply existing. Unfortunately, the exhibition was severely let down by the inclusion of MacDonald and the deliberate exclusion of the darker parts of his story. While it’s fantastic to see an LGBTQ+ organisation of Highland Pride’s size and public platform in the Highlands, it is of vital importance that history is accurately reported and is not whitewashed in order to fit a narrative.

“Sir Hector MacDonald was born in 1853 and grew up near Dingwall. He led an extraordinary life, becoming a war hero and respected general and earning himself a few monuments around the country, before his death in 1903. Colloquially known as ‘Fighting Mac’, Sir Hector remains one of the few people known to rise from the ranks to Major General in the armed forces. Hector’s father crofter and stonemason William, and his mother Ann had five children; William, Donald, Ewen, John and Hector. Hector’s brother, William, went on to become a Reverend, known as ‘Preaching Mac’. Hector left school at fifteen to become an apprentice draper in Dingwall before going to work for a tweed warehouse in Inverness. At seventeen, he joined the Gordons [sic] Highlanders at Fort George.

He worked through the non-commissioned ranks quickly and for his service in the Second Afghanistan War was offered the Victoria Cross or a commission. He chose to become a commissioned officer in his regiment and continue his service. In the First Boer War and during the Battle of Majuba Hill he was captured. After his capture General Joubert, of the South African Republic, admired Hector’s bravery so much that he returned Hector’s sword. He went on to serve in Egypt, followed by an effort to evacuate British and Egyptian troops from Sudan at the beginning of the Mahdi War, and then became a captain, training allied Sudanese troops. After fighting in the Battle of Toski Hector was given the Distinguished Servicer [sic] Order.

At the Battle of Omdurman Sir Hector once again distinguished himself. When the British Commander, Lord Kitchener, exposed his flanks, Hector skilfully repositioned his troops in an arc and held ground against the Mahdist army while Lord Kitchener redeployed his troops. After the battle Sir Hector was personally thanked by parliament and appointed an Aide-de-camp to Queen Victoria. Hector went on to fight in South Africa and became a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath.

Sir Hector was Commander-in-Chief of British Soldiers in Ceylon, what is now Sri Lanka, when rumours started circulating around his conduct with other men, particularly that he was having a sexual relationship with two Burgher men along with regularly visiting a club of dubious repute. When a local tea planter caught Sir Hector in a railway carriage with four young Sinhalese men and made public allegations, other people then came forward accusing him of sexual relations with many of the sons of renowned people in the colony.

Sir Hector was sent back to London to avoid a scandal, but Lord Roberts, Commander-in-Chief of the army, sent Hector back to Sri Lanka to face a court marshal [sic] – homosexuality was not illegal there at the time. On his journey back, after reading about himself in the breakfast newspaper, he shot himself in the room of his hotel.

After his death Sir Hector was absolved of all allegations against him. He was buried in Edinburgh, and the case files were destroyed.”

 

 

 

[1] Judd, D. (2012). Empire: The British Imperial Experience, from 1765 to the Present. London: I.B. Tauris, p.171.

[2] Judd, Empire, (2012) p.172.

[3] Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Offences against the Person Act 1875, sections 3&4.

 

 

 

 

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Jocktoberfest 2019 – Saturday

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Hello and welcome to another instalment of ‘why the fuck am I reading this pish?!’ with your loyal and just-a-bit-too-salty host, Chips & Gravy! You might also ask yourself what shite I’m spouting this week, and that would be a fair question. This short ‘n’ spicy number is a spattering of my stream of questionable consciousness through this year’s Jocktoberfest! Exciting stuff, boys.

This was a strange year for myself; I arrived late due to having a steady job (I know, I don’t get it either) and one of our other Nettlers was otherwise incapacitated due to temporary disablement and heavy duty painkillers. Nevertheless, we persisted.

Due to my holding down of employment I missed all of Friday’s shenanigans, which is brand new ground for me. Generally speaking – Friday is when I drink all my weekend supply alcohol (and oftentimes other people’s supplies too, I never suggested I was a good person) and spend three hours trying to look myself in the eye the next morning. WELL, NOT THIS TIME! This time I got stuck into Saturday, and burgers.

Upon arrival, I realised I needed emergency burgers. The food at this year’s Jocktoberfest was incredible as always, and I wasn’t disappointed. I’m a round wee soul, and I like my meals. Equipped with fourteen dinners in hand, I wandered to the Hayloft Stage to be greeted by Coca Tenorio. I did not expect ethereal woman belting out strange Spanish folk beats, but I had no problem with it.

The first act I saw that really stuck out to me was Colin Cannon on the Hayloft Stage. He played some lovely, melodic tunes with some very skilled finger picking of his acoustic guitar. Colin has a warm, comforting voice, the kind you’d want to take home to sing to your granny. A bit like Paolo Nutini – but with slightly less whisky. Unfortunately I was unable to get any photos of Colin performing, but that’s because there was a bloody great crowd that I couldn’t get past. I’m at average nipple height, which is too small for normal-heighted people to see, but too tall to slip between their legs. Probably for the best, that last bit. My only issue with his set was that once The Dihydro came on the Barn Stage it became impossible to hear Colin. Clearly a scheduling oversight, but a shame. Especially because I’m not a Dihydro fan, but that’s another pish article for another pish day.

Being not-a-Dihydro fan, I stayed in the Hayloft for a while waiting for Sophie Bonadea, who was also waiting for the aforementioned to finish so people could hear her set. Sophie was very personable – funny, relaxed and cracking jokes about being pregnant and playing her set as a duet with the other half in-utero. Her sound was a laid back Americana style, with a gorgeous voice and lovely acoustic guitar strumming. She really suited the Americana vibe, and I absolutely loved her set (and her skirt, feel free to donate me it). I did notice at this point that the mixing desk is an iPad which was WEIRD. I also noticed at this point that I’m fucking ancient, and of course technology such as this exists in 2019. Moving swiftly on to the Barn Stage

It appeared it was time to observe Be like Pablo – a band I’d heard about at various points and knew I should see. My first thought was “Weezer with a woman” – until I realised the singer was in fact a man. No biggie, just totally invalidates my insightful review. During their set, I realised the sound was terrible in the barn this year. It was really difficult to make out any of the lyrics, I couldn’t tell if the vocals were flat or the reverb made it sound that way, and the bass drowned out much of the other instruments. Previous years sound has been MUCH better, which is likely due to the new walls, concrete floor and decorative barrels backing the Barn Stage. Visually it was very appealing, however I can’t help but surmise that it affected the sound more than was originally anticipated. I felt bad for the band, but hey, at least they were having fun. Their second song sounded much better – the vocals and rhythm had a bit of a bit Fall Out Boy vibe – but it was still heavily impacted by the sound quality. It’s a shame as the band’s energy was great and I feel that in a different setting their gig would have been brilliant.

Overall, Jocktoberfest 2019 was fantastic – even though I had to miss half of it. The musicians were all high quality, talented and professional. What I personally enjoyed this year was that there were a few more artists from further afield. I’m of the opinion that local bands should be showcased first and foremost, but lately I’ve been finding that the same acts play the same places over and over, and the Inverness music scene is becoming a little samey for my liking. I really enjoyed the opportunity to see different artists than I usually would on any given Inverness weekend.

I also enjoyed the beer, but that’s to be expected.

Under the Sun, Under the Sea, JocktoberFest 2019

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Who doesn’t love a good theme?  Who doesn’t love it when a bunch of people get into a theme?  Who doesn’t love when a good theme comes off, and the weather pitches in to help as well?

Others thought that such brash predictions were tempting fate, but I was betting on JockoberFest coming through with the good re the sunshine once more this year, and it came through with aplomb!  The weekend before, when it would have potentially been on in previous years, was fucking awful.  Might have added to the theme of under the water if everything was literally under the water, but for mine, I am happy that the festival continued to ride its luck of the last few years re weather. 

One problem with having the weather that good is the practicalities of seeing the bands.  Of course seeing bands in the sun is great, but soaking it in up in the campsite is also a large temptation.

The day leading up on the Friday flowed well.  Good progress on some stuff, leaving my brain cleaner of ‘life admin’ for the weekend ahead.  Once you get into the mood and the swing of JoctoberFest then happily these things tend to fall away anyway, but a good start was had.  We got to the campsite and got set up and had a drink in the sun, and a catch-up.  More people came trickling in, and it was easier for a while to greet them and soak in the sun a little more. 

After a wee while though Woolly Dermal and I thought we’d get our noses in the arena and see what it felt like.

The first impressions were not good.  Actually, that’s both incorrect and harsh.  This is J’Fest, and it was looking beautiful.  They had set up the theme well, and people were already dressing up.  Got to meet the M.U.F.F. Diver in gold before we even got in there.  His was one of the best costumes for the weekend, but there kept on being newcomers all the time.  Effort and talent = style, it seems.

The layout was slightly different, but where the food vans are isn’t going to make or break the weekend.  But coming in, we saw the sides of the Dutch Barn had been walled in.  As it turned out, later on part of the back wall could be peeled back to let light in and music out.  However, the first impression lead to the thought of whether this was a good or bad change.  I’m still not sure.  I figure it’s really good for a working farm, and slightly diminished experience for the festival.

Woolley is a fan of photography and loved the light you get through the open barn, so was concerned about the pictures to be taken.  These were more professional thoughts than me, in relation to reviews. 
I was feeling good, again, about the weekend ahead at Black Isle Brewery.  My thoughts centred on what I wanted to do right then and there. 
I wanted to stand bang in the sunshine with a pint, and see the band that was starting.  However, I was looking instead at the side of a barn.   

There’s a reason there’s the term ‘you couldn’t hit the side of a barn.’  It’s because they’re fucking huge.  And the band was hidden on the other side, so we wandered in, and the next thing was that they had concreted the floor of the barn.  It was a shame from the ambience, and also the feel of the hay and that it is an organic farm with organic feel, but enough of those types of feelings for now.  The main feeling is that with walls and a concrete floor to adjust to, the sound production was really hit and miss throughout the weekend.  Some was good, some was bouncing all over the shop.

In terms of this, I’ll go straight to the counterbalance of all the good stuff I’m saying around this.  The counterbalance came to me when someone mentioned that they had been going for about 13 years as a festival.  My base, immediate thought on this was how on Earth they didn’t know how to get their shit together better after having done it that long.  Just some things that make you wonder.

There has previously been big board in the arena with running sheets, but this was absent this year.  They now had beer barrels behind the stage in the Dutch Barn though, and these were great props. 

[My thought for free for the Black Isle, if they can’t put a board up of the bands and times on the wall, maybe put them on the front of these barrels. Easy, and much more handy than how things went]. 

Around about 4-ish on the Saturday, I walked in to hear a band started on the Dutch Barn perfectly in the middle of when the sheet said the gap was, so assumed it just the event running a touch late, but who knows.  There were last minute leads swaps and dashes to grab equipment between bands, or bands filling in gaps at the last second but just jumping on stage as asked/ required.  I did miss details of who I was actually seeing sometimes, however have tried to recreate accurately in the next review, which will be about the music. 

The funny thing I find about this is that it is actually a bit shit and disorganised and how they haven’t scrubbed up these sort of things by now is beyond reason.  However, it also really, really doesn’t matter that much in a lot of ways either. 

The bands were obviously pitching in and have their heart and soul on the line.  A number of them even were in the fluro vests directing us in on the Friday night in the car park. 

The bar staff were efficient, courteous, managed well and must have taking a huge amount of money for good quality beer over the bar.  Who can hate capitalist democracy so much, even in the times of “He who came after May,” when you can be so happy about a business transaction where they quickly get you good beer in exchange for money!? 

Along side this, the punters got into it, and so did the weather.  What’s not to love.  I did love it there again.  I do love JoctoberFest!  There, you went and made me confess feelings, and I was avoiding trying to review it above on the strength of feelings. 
But then again, looking back at it, that is the strong point of the festival.   Its brain could use some sharpening, but its heart and soul which is what’ll get me back there again next year.  Hope to see some of you back there again, too.

Cornwallace.

Jocktoberfest 2019 – preview

Reading Time: 4 minutes

JocktoberFest 2019 – A preview big on memories, short on facts:

Hello there all. Unlike my fellow castaways who washed up here at TheNettle, I didn’t get to Belladrum (Note – it’s an ‘Under The Sea’ theme for JocktoberFest this year. I’m going to milk the thematic wordplay out of that until I get sick of it – fair warning).

Bella a lovely festival. A piece of wonder – everyone agrees. However, not having a pirate’s hoard at my disposal last month, I had to sit it out, Otis Redding style. This is a strange way to start a review on an entirely different festival, with an entirely different feel – I do realise this. However, as Belladrum is probably sitting fresh in the minds of many, it is a good counterpoint to show both what J’Fest is, and what it is not. And as I missed Bella because of the vast amounts of money required to both get there and eat and drink there, the first points of comparison go very clearly to those putting on the show at the Black Isle Brewery, for the pure fact of being able to afford to get there. At about ¼ of the price, I’m not only getting there, I’m planning to indulge (in an adult and responsible way, naturally) in the other good things of the festival.

Some of these things are in the realms of the Gods. That it is ‘under the sea’ as a theme, I hope that they haven’t piqued the interest of Poseidon – there’s been a blissful run of quite unseasonably fucking fantastic weather at JocktoberFest the last few years, and I’m hoping that this continues, and is not feeling under the sea in either the campsite or the staged areas. There’s a whole heap of straw they inevitably put around, but here’s hoping it doesn’t need to soak up the mud and the rain, and that the sunshiney goodness run of the last few years continues.

Of the things that can be controlled, they do it well. As a brewery, they have both the opportunity as well as a good knack of trialling a range of their experimental and upcoming beers on the punters. I was more than happy about that last year, although what I thought was the pick of the bunch (Brown Bear Ale, from memory) never made it into the pubs, so maybe there’s more going on in that calculus than I know. If you are from the Brewery and thinking of putting this beer back on this year – please do. I shall ensure (in an adult and responsible way) that it is a profitable decision…

Anyway, the beers are good. The music is good. The food is good. I have missed out on the lamb the last 2 years, so have another suggestion while I have the chance – if your gonna kill one sheep for the pleasure of the bloodthirsty mob, why not another? Twice the profit, twice the greasy joy on the lips of the paying public. We could even sacrifice them in the name of Poseidon in the hope He keeps the waters at bay. Mmmm, sacrilicious!

When it comes down to it, JocktoberFest boils down to a few simple things. A small festival where you get characters at play. People you know, and people you bump into enough times in the small space that you get a chance to know them if ya wanna. The dressing up thing is always a thing which is taken on board by a good % of the crowd as well, so besides being hilarious and creatively inventive, it is also a good angle to start up a chat if you’re that was inclined. Which many seem to be at this festival which is all about the snug comfy closeness of it all.

In terms of music, I can honestly say I haven’t much paid attention yet. However, I’ve perused Fremsley’s useful, short rundown and have a few options now to start thinking about.

All you really need to know is that they focus on local as well as up-and-coming acts. The festival gives them a chance to perform in front of a decent, happy, swing-along-into-it crowd. What this means for the most part is that the crowd gee-up the bands, the bands who are having an opportunity gee-up the crowd, and it is a lovely rising tide of good times there right at your fingertips, should you choose to be down in the stage area. You might just as easily be soaking in the sun and atmosphere up at your tent, or knee-deep talking intense bollocks to someone for the sheer joy if it. These things all happen at J’Fest.

If you’re inclined to angle towards the bands, you might not know all of them unless you’re a die-hard music aficionado, but it really doesn’t matter. It is a festival in which to explore such things. To try new bands, check them out, enjoy them if you do, wander off if you don’t or go and lie in the sun near your tent just as likely as well, full of good food, good drink, and those warm fuzzy feelings that primary school teachers like to talk about. I’m hoping to get to see some new bands and become a fan of some of them, but if I don’t then I know I’m still going be loving JocktoberFest for the other bits of goodness floating around.

If you’re inclined towards such things, as all at The Nettle are, then head along. There’s gonna be at least one thing there that’ll make you happy you did.

  • Cornwallace.