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Camden Fringe: Truly, Madly, Keighley, Camden Head

Part of the Camden Fringe 2013
Written and performed by Not The Brontës

Pros: Not the Brontës create a very relaxed and easy-going atmosphere. The performance makes you feel right at home in the theatre.

Cons: Working on the interpretation of the stories would have engaged the audience more.

Our Verdict: The stories were interesting and fun cleverly combined with live music and some northern humor.

Courtesy of Not The Brontës

Truly, Madly, Keighley is composed of a selection of short stories, songs and poems read and interpreted by merry Northern bunch Not The Brontës. Writers and performers Em Fleming and Polly Penter share very intimate and personal thoughts about their life, their expectations for the future as young women, and their current situation as Northerners in London. They also throw in some entertaining scenes dealing with family situations and comical sketches all to the live music provided by guitarist Marvin Gore, who occasionally joins in to read the male characters.

The stories were composed of many things that we can all relate to. Moving away from home to pursue university, experiences at work, anecdotes from a night out. I very much enjoyed the positivism that seeped through each one. Although the stories belonged to them and were extremely individual to their circumstances, there was always something for everyone. My favorite one was called Stories and Wolves, performed by Fleming. It was slightly different than the other stories, and she mixed elements from folk tales with her experiences growing up.

Not the Brontës managed to create an easy-going and welcoming atmosphere for their public. They truly wanted to connect and let everyone in by opening up through their pieces. The aim was to amuse and give something to reflect on later. My origins could not be further from the North of England but the performance still brought back warm memories of home, family and friends. I felt drawn into the pictures being painted through their words.

The effort and message was clearly there, but reading out loud to a group of strangers can be very challenging. Fleming’s voice carried through beautifully with a lovely musicality and she stole the show in my opinion. Penter was far more nervous, and tended to rush through her parts. None the less, she did deliver when the time came for her to perform a singing fragment and a short story about her “charming” great aunt. One downside which applied to both performers was that they read directly from their notebooks, which sometimes meant flat interpreting instead of reciting. I would have liked to have seen their eyes shift from the page to the audience a lot more than they did. It would have engaged the spectators and helped the words carry better. Further work on the interpretation of the pieces would have made a very significant difference to the show.

All in all, I spent a very pleasant and familiar evening watching Not The Brontës’ production. Their fragments and stories were intriguing and fun, although maybe that familiarity made them less strict about their performance.

Seen the show yourself? Agree or disagree? Submit your own review with our Camden Fringe Big Audience Project!

Truly, Madly, Keighley has now finished its run at the Camden Head. For more information about Not the Brontës visit https://www.facebook.com/NotTheBrontes

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