Review: Dog With a Windy Face – Live.

A popular soundbite often attributed to Cornwall is the description of it as a “cultural wasteland”. I have seen this written a fair few times in the last couple of years, and backed up by the assertions of both my Cornish and Non-Cornish friends that “there’s not a lot of talent in Cornwall now”.

Tonight, in a tiny brownie hall in the middle of Penryn, I saw the conclusive proof that these people are talking bollocks.

Dog With a Windy Face is a radio sketch show that has aired on The Source FM (Falmouth’s community radio station) over the last year, written and performed by the stunningly talented Barny Savage, Nicky Pasterfield, Nick Owen and Ross Kessell. But faced with an invite to perform at the Port Eliot festival this weekend, what were they going to do? The answer: Dog With a Windy Face – Live. Though tonight was only a dress rehearsal, it did serve as a pretty good indicator of what the Port Eliot show will be like. What a lucky audience they’ll be.

Comedy is, as it is, a tough thing to master. Transferring radio comedy into a visual format makes the job even tougher, and many shows have lost out on something…. something…. upon transferring from radio to, say, television. The two examples that I quote incessently are The Mighty Boosh – at least for a bit of the first series – and The Mitchell and Webb Look (formerly Sound), but as people really do tend to disagree with me on that I shall point out that Just a Minute and I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue have had long distinguished radio careers but never successfully made it to television, because they lose something important when the transfer occurs. DWAWF Live (yes, but typing it so many times would get to me otherwise) manages this transfer as if it was nothing, and, aside from anything else the show achieves, that is in itself intensly impressive.

But the show does achieve so much more! The sketches are absolutely superb: tightly written and coming across, as all good sketches should, as if no work went into the writing of them whatsoever. Ranging from scathing social parodies to complete absurdity, they have acheived a wonderfully broad base of humour that will have lots of people laughing at different jokes to the person sitting next to them. Though the spreading of humour to appeal to lots of different groups is sometimes frowned upon in today’s “everything must have a demographic” world, and though it gives the show a slightly mismatched feel in places, I believe that, overall, it strengthens DWAWF as a show and its prospects when performed.

Though it is obvious to say, good writing can fall flat on its face if not properly performed. And this is where DWAWF really has an advantage, because not only are the team fantastic writers, but they more than match that skill when performing. Whether it’s Savage and Kessell’s more extreme characters (though Kessell’s Alan Bennett impersination certainly shows that he is not immune to the more subtle school of comedy) or Owen and Pasterfield’s realistic and finely tuned roles, you truly feel that they are not letting their scripts down. The most fantastic moments, of course, happen when both the styles combine to create a contrast that’s truly a joy to watch. Of course, though, some credit must go to Kate Lamerton-Wilde, who has been directing the group tirelessly for the Port Eliot performances and whose efforts have certainly not gone to waste. From argumentative couples to the dangers of forcing Death into early retirement, all have been rendered in a waythat not only suspends your disbelief, but makes you actively wish that reality could be as brilliant.

I strongly urge anyone who gets a chance to see or hear any of this group’s amazing work to do so without hesitation, especially if you’re one of those who feels that there’s no talent in Cornwall: you’ll never be so glad you were wrong.

For more information on Dog With a Windy Face, and to listen to the radio shows, go to http://www.dogwithawindyface.co.uk

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A note on blogging and other nonsense…

I’ve always been a bit sceptical of blogging. This partly stems from the fact that I write a diary and in the few years I’ve been writing it I have noticed two things:

a) It’s often quite hard to find things to write. I find this happens to me far too often for someone doing an English degree and I think it may well have something to do with the fact that I lead an extremely dull life in which not much of particular note happens. And so my diary often ends up full of one line entries such as “Went to Truro today. Ate a sandwich and stared at people.” or, even worse, just the dateand then a blank space which looms at me as I realise I actually have nothing of interest to say.

b) It is also hard, sometimes infinitely more so, to avoid becoming entirely self indulgent in a diary… you know the sort of thing: “I feel so lost and alone since Brad left the house five minutes ago! It probably all traces back to the abandonment I suffered when my mother left the house for ten minutes when I was 12…” Not sure about anyone else, but I don’t really enjoy reading blogs that become mis-lit within two minutes of reading them, and though I have seen people who pull it off nicely, I think I’d be even more uncomfortable finding that *my* blog had turned into one of them.For “Personal Development” at university we had to write a “reflective blog” (I think I’ve just used up my inverted comma quota for the day), and it took everything I had not to turn it into a bunch of self indulgent crap…. which actually, in the end, I think we were supposed to do. As it was, to avoid it becoming too much of a bunch of self indulgent crap I wrote a bunch of irrelevent crap instead, which was much better! 🙂

So I’m not really sure what this blog’s going to be… I guess that’s alright though because no one’s going to read it anyway! I suppose I’ll just have to figure out as I go along. It’ll probably contain a bit of everything though: rants, reviews, recipes, writings of my own and other things beginning with a ‘ruh’ sound. Lots of fun.

With this in mind, I guess I’ll start with a bit about myself. My name’s Mabel, I live in a village that by all rights should only exist in a postcard, I have a ridiculously huge family and I’m doing an English degree. I like reading, writing, funny things, fluffy pens and other such nonsense. I dislike things that make me angry…. there are too many of these things to list.

Happiness and Light,
Mabel x