Finale of the Swindon Fringe Festival Part 1 – Listen (Peter Hynds) Part 2 – Anglichanka (Abi Roberts) Town Hall, Swindon
Two vastly different but equally as entertaining and exceptional performances brought the Swindon Fringe Festival to a close.
First up was the gut-wrenchingly emotional monologue called ‘Listen’, which was written by Matt Fox and performed by the versatile and adaptable actor that is Peter Hynds (from TS Theatre).
This performance was brutal to the ears and you couldn’t tear your eyes away from Peter as he launched into his tale of what it’s truly like to be a soldier.
He held everyone’s attention as he talked about how he drank to block out the awful savage memories of what he saw while serving his country.
We heard how films never properly portray the reality of what explosions do to people and how he ended up being protected from a blast by an unwitting "human shield".
We ended up understanding why the character that Peter plays had a drinking problem, most people undoubtedly would too if they saw dismembered bodies up close.
This was a 30-minute, powerful, one-man piece of theatre about warfare. It took us on a journey, leaving us breathless and compassionate for anyone who had ever been in that situation.
Peter was sensational; he was totally in the moment and put an instant hush on the crowd with his initial solemn look in our direction. You just instantly knew this piece of theatre was going to be hard core.
When he finally left the stage and people showed their appreciation with a lengthy applause, there was an eerie silence for a while before people got off their seats to have a break before the next and final part of the Swindon Fringe Festival.
I overheard a couple’s conversation as they left the theatre and said: “Wow, that was so powerful. His descriptions really got to me.”
After some refreshments we were greeted with something entirely different but just as impressive.
Comedian Abi Roberts burst on to the stage like a breath of fresh air with her new show Anglichanka (means Englishwoman in Russian); which was about living in the former Soviet Union in the 90s and returning after 18 years as the first UK comic to perform in English and Russian.
Having seen a lot of stand-up over the years, I had never come across Abi before so I wasn’t sure what to expect - but I can say with absolute confidence that I will make sure I see her again now that I have witnessed first-hand how absolutely hilarious she is.
This woman is belly achingly funny; she is clever, witty, different and moreish. The way she tells the crowd her life story is so interesting that your attention is not allowed to drift for a second, and the pace of her tales made her totally addictive.
Throughout this show, we really got a snapshot of what living in Russia must be like; we heard about the kindness of these people, the coldness of the climate and the vodka-infused lifestyle!
The performance was an education and Abi proved that nothing you do in life is a waste. Her mother wanted her to be a professional opera singer (Abi trained at the famous Moscow Conservatory), so she uses some of her singing in this current production.
Abi is comedy gold and the people of Swindon would be wise to catch her when she’s next in town. Her dance moves and vocals when it comes to her Russian version of the musical ‘Chicago’ is now forever embedded in my memory.
A 10 out of 10 evening that felt over too soon. By Kelly Jobanputra