Lost In Vagueness HHHH

The Old Market, Hove, Saturday, June 16

AT the main door to this celebration of Glastonbury’s most infamous party area, the queue of stylish festival regulars marked out a collective tale of affection.

Inside, the floors were littered with cushions, lit up by a cocktail bar and DJs. As an authentic recreation in miniature of the scenes known to many at Lost Vagueness, all it lacked was nudity.

Suddenly, The Two Wrongies, a female dance double act, performed a naked synchronised swimming act from on high.

As a piece of free-spirited circus, it would have been a mainstay on a Lost Vagueness bill. But the film itself – a love letter by Sofia Olins that has taken the filmmaker years to complete – drew more genuine cheers of recognition.

Olins initially completed the documentary in 2007 and kept adding archive footage and reflective interviews to her beautifully measured tale before releasing it last year.

There is contextual danger in attempting to chart this rise and fall, tiptoeing a timeline forged in early Nineties’ traveller communities and an artistic vision indebted to Weimar cabaret.

At the centre, Roy Gurvitz, Lost Vagueness’s founder, is a fascinating anti-hero of fierce determination and single-mindedness – qualities that made his idea a delight during the early part of the story.

Once the main stages at Glastonbury closed, the best part of 120,000 people would head to Gurvitz’s after-party.

There, they might just as likely see a last-minute set by Madness as they would a burlesque spectacular involving fish hooks and a live enema.

By the end of the film, though, Gurvitz is an incendiary figure, throwing a tantrum at festival overlord Michael Eavis and leaving his brilliant producer, Leila Jones, baffled.

On the one hand, this is a classic tale of a counter-cultural concept trading its innate magic for mainstream riches.

Jones offers a powerful argument when she derides the prospect of creating corporate parties for multi-millionaires.

And the spectacularly weird performers hosted by Lost Vagueness’s spin-off events company look deeply incongruous when the film follows them to lucrative trade fairs and middle England events.

There again, part of the company’s achievement was in transporting eccentric cabinets of curiosities, installation art and an unbridled spirit of creative abandon to mainstream audiences. Without Gurvitz’s temperamental implosion, Lost Vagueness might still be doing that. Despite its demise, hundreds of festivals and clubnights still owe much to the unmistakable imprint of an idea that saw Fatboy Slim become a bumblebee and vast music crowds embrace anarchy.

Lost Vagueness’s glorious hedonism lives on.

Ben Miller

Journey’s End


Priory Playhouse, Arundel, Saturday, June 16

WITH conflicts still going on around the world it is timely to look back at the futility of war.

Based on R C Sherriff’s own experiences at the front line during the First World War, his powerful play depicts life and the appalling conditions in an officers’ dugout.

A lost world is conjured up where decency and duty are accepted without challenge. Sherriff’s period dialogue may sound quaint to our ears but it is never risible.

The play focuses on a small band of officers, physically and in some cases mentally exhausted, as they await an expected big push from the Germans.

Their chatter may be trivial but it breaks the boredom while the long wait exposes tensions and their fears. These are countered by a fair amount of humour, mainly from Andre Bougard’s 2nd Lt Trotter and Andy Horner, the officer’s stoical cook.

But it is in the second act that the play’s power intensifies with moving scenes, fierce confrontations and personal feelings released. All lead to a terrifying finale where for several minutes the audience’s ears were bombarded with cannon and shell fire. There was a prolonged, stunned silence before they could give the production the applause it justly observed.

Gill Lambourn’s taut and sensitive direction was enhanced by the set and special effects. She extracted the best from her fine cast.

Adrian Kenward inhabited the skin of the avuncular Osborne and was most moving as he placed his personal belongings, including his wedding ring, on the table before leading a raiding party.

Another standout performance came from Ben Cassan as the commanding officer teetering on the edge of a breakdown – a difficult part that has to get the balance right. Harry Rippon’s cowardly Hibbert and Freddie Hill’s newly arrived gung ho Public School boy deserve special mention.

Barrie Jerram