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Mayfest review: Forest Fringe Microfest Saturday 8th May 2010 by Katie Day

Editors Note: This review is part of theatrebristol.net's second open Mayfest Audience Reviews Project, and the opinions contained are soley those of the author and not those of Theatre Bristol as an organisation, nor should they be attributed as such. For more information about the reviews project contact editor@theatrebristol.net.

First up for Mayfest 2010 was the Forest Fringe Microfestival. Taking over the Old Vic for the weekend, the Microfestival offered a mighty spread of tiny treats for audiences who were up for seeking them out.

I started my evening with a (bargain 2-4-1) glass of wine and some musical comedy in the Paint Shop courtesy of Little Bulb. They kept us giggling along with their dramatically performed tunes which encompassed such impromptu subject matter as transporting Bristol University on a ship to China, and a song with lyrics crafted from two paper items pulled from audience members' pockets: a hospital appointment letter and a debit card train ticket receipt.

And then I set off on a wander to see what I could find. Rumours abounded: Where was the light bulb that was out, did I know? Had I found the map? What map? What light bulb? Clearly I hadn't stumbled upon the starting instruction for either of these little interventions that had others transfixed.  I did find myself plunging down other rabbit holes though. I couldn't resist picking up a ringing telephone in the Paint Shop, which led me out of the building into central Bristol to hug a hoodie until he fell asleep in my arms. He seemed to fit into his surroundings almost too well if the reactions of some other Bristolian Saturday night revellers passing were anything to go by.

I booked myself in for a quick trip to Space with Tinned Fingers, choosing Van Morrison singing 'Moondance' as my co-pilot on an adventure which was possibly not the best cure for my Mayfest Opening Party induced hangover. I don't think I should tell too much, but I did like the idea that I could go to space in an armchair – very civilised.

There seemed to be a bit of a trend for experiences to offer a financial transaction ... in my favour – I came away from the hugging that hoodie with a hoodie to keep, I had a minute of my time bought from me for £1 (all my rights signed away though), and ideas could be bought or sold at The Ideas Cabinet. Now I'm guilty of this incessant gift giving in my own work too. I can't decide if its all just rather charming generosity, or if us artists are not giving ourselves enough credit for our work: the performance is probably gift enough without the extra gift/bribe.

Just before congregating back in the Paint Shop I scratched the surface of the atmospherically presented Travelling Sounds Library, which contained several 30 minute long tracks I didn't have a hope of having time to listen to in full to, by artists such as Duncan Speakman/Uninvited Guests and Blast Theory.

A fun and surprising evening wrapped up with contrasting pieces from two Bristol performance duos. Growing Old With You was a stylish, silent work-in-progress performance by Search Party involving lots of walking up and down a catwalk of salt, before Pete was soaked by buckets of water and then buried in piles of salt. A strong visual study of a relationship was starting to emerge, and I look forward to seeing where they go with this.

Bright Tomorrow by Action Hero was possibly the loudest seven minutes of my life, and saw James in customary heroic form this time as a tambourine-brandishing, rabbit-eared frontman, whilst Gemma shouted unceasingly but incomprehensibly into the microphone. It was tense and energetic, but mostly it was LOUD.

I never had a hope of finding everything that was on offer, but that is Forest Fringe's intention. And I'm happy with that. I'd rather there was too much than not enough. But I might pop back tomorrow too, just to see what I missed first time.....

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