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Latitude 2019 – On reflection

As the wet weather sets in and it seems summer may be over all too soon, reflections on the last day of Latitude, when we were slightly too tired to think straight, let alone produce any material that would make sense, and the festival weekend in general come to the forefront of our minds.

As everything reached its conclusion on the Sunday we randomly headed off towards the theatre tent in the hope of finish the weekend on a high. Luckily we caught the superb modern movement piece Blizzard by the fabulous fizzing French-Canadian circus troupe, Flip Fabrique.

Flip have created a wondrous show of thrills, spills and wows which receive audible gasps amongst the audience and a number of giggles from the children in the crowd.

The handful of performers are joined by an onstage musician who holds the piece’s mood and emotion together beautifully. Reminiscent of a pacy and poignant Charlie Brown soundtrack in places, the pianist is moved around the stage as the acrobats tumble, twist and fly around their surroundings. A female performer falls backwards from a cube twenty feet in the air only to be caught inches from the ground, an aerial display with two performers mesmerises the gathering and a manic trampolining section leaves the auditorium breathless.

In-between the tense moments of high daring comes some sweet and funny clowning. A performance on rollerblades is very funny as is a tropical hula-hoop skit. Blizzard is modern circus at its best and one of the top highlights of the festival theatre programme.

Headlining the Obelisk Arena and BBC Sounds tent on the final evening are Lana Del Rey and Slaves respectively. Music lovers caught between the two stages appear confused, as if they have been transported to Tolkein’s Middle Earth, with ethereal sounds from the Elven forest coming in one ear (Del Rey) and dark rumblings from the Dwarf mountains (Slaves) ringing in the other.

Neither music is a totally satisfactory way to end the weekend. Del Rey’s floaty brand of pop lacks the substance that a more rounded artist in a similar genre, like Tori Amos, would bring. Slaves, while having a great sense of humour and attack to their work, also seem to lack the profile to climax the festival but, of the two, produce the more convincing and cogent set on the night.

And so we came to the end of Latitude 2019, so how did it fare overall? This year we have seen some fabulous snippets of sounds, silliness and spoken word content. Arguably, not quite as engaging than in 2018, as the weekend saw a less compelling programming on the comedy stage and in its musical output but, having said that, there has been a good mix of gems to discover in all genres and the general feel of the festival is often what makes it.

The site is situated in the most beautiful surroundings and is well run by a mix of a very able production team and dedicated volunteers; things seem to nearly always run smoothly.

The food is extremely tasty and very diverse; I had the best veggie burger I have ever eaten here. This was, like all the fare on offer, eye-wateringly expensive, which was expected as it has been this way for most festivals for a long time.

There was a smattering of controversy and first world problems. As Latitude works towards a zero single-use plastics regime it seemed odd that you were not allowed to take bottled water filled from the camping area into the arena (only unopened water in plastic bottles was allowed in). Many people were outraged at this; It’s surprising how many people can go from zero to ten on the angry scale in an instant!

With the extra controversy over a thirty-minute stoppage on two of the main stages to allow adverse weather to disperse, people once again took to Twitter to complain. Just relax and go with the flow, is my advice to these anxious few. For, all in all, Latitude is a fun and inclusive place, one of the most family-friendly events of its type and rightly has a reputation for good quality performances. I am certainly looking forward to returning again next year.

Simon Topping | Image: Danny North

The Reviews Hub

The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. We aim to review all professional types of theatre, whether that be Commercial, Repertory or Fringe as well as Comedy, Music, Gigs etc.

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