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Latitude Festival: Speakeasy Round-Up

With Latitude being so diverse in terms of offerings, it’s always a challenge to a) get around everything you want to see and b) get enough of a stint at any given stage to feel you’ve really made the most of it. Despite this, occasionally deciding to spend some time in one place can be a wise choice and you end up stumbling across things that weren’t necessarily circled on your programme.

On Friday evening, while James and Solage compete for the loudest beats over on the BBC Music and Obelisk stages, The Speakeasy – with its improved and somewhat more spacious feeling marquee tent – plays host to The Sky at Night’s Professor Chris Lintott with a talk on all things stars and planets (including a top secret one that we don’t know about yet…don’t worry Chris, we won’t tell) and Pappy’s Flatshare Slamdown, a comedy podcast.

Lintott attracts quite the crowd with his ‘tour of the universe’, arriving on stage with a laptop and projector ready to wow us with the reality of science vs the press image. Interesting, knowledgeable and engaging, the audience was hanging off his every word, having all genuinely learnt something by the time he leaves the stage. From the Cassini spacecraft and Saturn’s watery moon, Enceladus, to the question of Life on Mars, we were transported lightyears away, and back, in an instant. There’s a feeling of wanting the slot to go on far longer than the hour it did. There was also a chance to join Lintott and Robin Ince, along with the Cosmic Shambles team and a local astronomy group for some telescope action that promised views of a currently dusty Mars; a great addition to the line-up.

As the astronomy crowds cleared, folks shuffled forward to make way for the newcomers, Pappy’s Flatshare Slamdown begin setting up their makeshift flat in preparation for their comedy panel show…of sorts. The concept is simple enough, unruly tenants Ben Clarke and Tom Parry are out to battle for the rights to avoid household chores – today’s activity being working out their Latitude schedule. The pair rope in some comedian friends and compete in a series of bizarre games while a bemused live band taunts them with deliberately off cues to play along.

There is a very clear divide between those who know the podcast beforehand, and those who had no idea what they’d stumbled upon, and enjoyment levels vary. Given the nature of the festival, people leaving part way through is not always indicative of a bad show, but there are clearly those that just don’t appreciate any of it. It had its funny moments and some of the improv was well executed, but it was mostly a group of mates having a bit of a giggle at a festival and sometimes felt a bit amateur teenage bedroom with not quite enough to make us last the distance.

13 July 2018 | Robin Winters

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The Reviews Hub - Yorkshire & North East
The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Charlotte Broadbent. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.