Cider and culture in Bristol

Last weekend I journeyed across the breadth of England to the city of Bristol, partly to sample some fine West Country cider, but mostly to see my friend Jasmine perform her first solo piece Five Fat Fish as part of the Mayfest arts festival. It also gave me the chance to verify my claim that Norwich will be “the new Bristol”. I’m man enough to admit when I’m tragically mistaken; Norwich has a way to go to reach the level of Bristol’s ‘awesomeness’. There is no other word for it.

I think the weather and the company had something to do with it, my friend Mike and I arrived on Saturday to glorious sunshine and spent the rest of the afternoon in the sun at The Apple, Bristol’s own cider boat, waiting for the show to start. Now contemporary performance theatre is really not my usual cultural area, but after a couple of bottles of moonshine-strength paint-stripper I was ready to embrace anything. As it turns out the performance was at turns hilarious, tragic and surprising, chronicling the journey of the one-woman Bristol synchronized swim team on her journey to the 2010 Olympic Games. I’m so glad I went to see something so different from my normal Saturday night entertainment! You SHOULD check out Tinned Fingers, Jasmine’s theatre group, if you ever get the chance.

On the river front the next day we came across a caravan which some enterprising types had converted into a series of rooms for their interactive experience Famous Last Words, described as “a quiz show in a caravan”, which doesn’t explain the half of it. Basically ‘contestants’ entered one at a time and were confronted by a quiz master who after asking them a few very strange questions, such as ‘what’s closer to your heart; sex or death?’, directs you through another door to the next weird encounter. The premise becomes clear when the contestant changes places with one of the questioners, and effectively does the whole experience again from the perspective of the other side. Make any sense? Well I was sworn to secrecy before leaving the caravan so that’s probably for the best.

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