The dancers, movers and shakers, known to habitués of North Devon’s festival of fringe theatre by the  tandemised monicker Bill & Gill, are the racing heart and cool-as-fuck soul of our Well Thumbed sojourn in Barnstaple.

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We stayed four days, played four shows and saw four more.

Well Thumbed was staged in the Guildhall, under the watchful eye of this portrait of famous son-of-Barnstaple, John Gay. Very appropriate.

Vanderbank, John, 1694-1739; John Gay (1685-1732), Poet and Dramatist

In fact this is the first time that the 11-year old fringe has been allowed within the properly posh municipal portals of the Guildhall.

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Across the four shows our audience numbers grew as word-of-mouth spread. Some of ’em, including the reviewer (see below), came to see it more than once; another brought her book group. Notional’s modern collection/pop-up-gallery of Carl Chapple’s oil portraits was much admired – a sparky little jewel set in the heart of Barnstaple’s proud collection of Town Council-worthy art.

artworks in the Guildhall, Barnstaple

As if that wasn’t enough for the most culturally vultural… On the final day of the festival the sun was shining and the sky was blue so a trip to Ilfracombe proved irresistible. Coffee first: in Damien Hirst’s restaurant, surrounded by some of his works. Then a stroll to discover his 66 feet tall  Verity.

Wow.

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What else happened? Well, lots. Well Thumbed was featured – live! – on BBC’s Spotlight Southwest. Alas, we didn’t get round to the iPlayer in time to capture any stills; the Librarian saying ‘Both sides be welcomed’ down the barrel of the camera into Devonian cream tea sitting rooms would have been nice image to hold on to.

Lots else happened. Of the four shows we saw, seeing Nos Three‘s Blooming Out (also in the Guildhall) was a particular treat.

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Now, if are you sitting comfortably, here’s an excerpt of the review of ‘s first night in Barnstaple.

… Yet an even bigger part of why this show is so good is the sheer joyous energy that is present from start to finish. Terry Victor engages brilliantly with every quote, delivering them in such a comical fashion and interacting with the audience in such a way that it’s impossible not to laugh out loud at every line.

So if you’re aged 14 and up and want to laugh your a*se off, this show is definitely for you.

The full thing: Well Thumbed reviewed

Next up is a return visit to Chapter Arts in Cardiff. Well Thumbed didn’t quite know what to do with itself last time it was there: not sure whether to be silly or serious. Now it knows. This is stand-up literature. The classics with the clean bits taken out. It’s funny, it’s comedy and it’s playing July 26 and 27.

Here’s a link to Chapter’s box office: Chapter/Well Thumbed  Hope to see you there.

And finally back to Bill & Gill (or Gill & Bill if you prefer). Notional Theatre wants to send the pair of you a hug. So this blog is going out to Bill Buffery and Gill Nathanson, from the Multi Story Theatre Company. & just so as you know who to look out for, if you happen to have a hug going spare, this is they.

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