Laughs, sniggers and guffaws galore as ‘A Bottle of Hastings’ reboots its fringe show for a Sunday night audience

It’s oh so easy to get yourself in to a rut and settle down in front of the telly with a glass of wine by your side writes Stuart Baillie.

But we are oh so lucky in Hastings to have so many good venues and perhaps as a consequence so many great performers based right here in our community.

So on Sunday night we eschewed TV and headed down to the White Rock to see A Bottle of Hastings billed as a ‘rich tapestry of songs, sketches, monologues, poems and stand-up.’

Originally put on as part of last year’s Hastings Fringe by ‘Performers Who Write’ we were told at the opening of the show that this was the first time they had ever repeated their Fringe show.

On stage were Mike Hatchard, sitting comfortably behind his piano with Sally Holloway, Lisa Harmer-Pope, Michele Lester and Emma Silvester.

Split in to two 45 minutes halves the show rattled along at a brisk pace as one performance neatly segued in to the next. We encountered all aspects of life in Hastings from a monologue by Edith the Fair, wife of King Harold, to reminiscing about the days when Eddie Izzard worked in an Ice Cream van on Galley Hill!

Emma Silvester gave a wonderfully original performance with her comedic song ‘Cloud’ that told the story of her woes with modern technology; her lost emails, photographs and messages that – to the tune of Send In The Clowns – she told us were “all in the cloud’!

Michele Lester’s Bawdy Lady, in three parts, charted the career of a – perhaps less than conventional – Hastings landlady as she confessed to her misdemeanours in a warm and conspiratorial way.

We’d seen Lisa Harmer-Pope as Edith just a week or so earlier in the Marina Fountain but her performance was no less funny second time around as she shared some of the more intimate reasons why she was able to be so sure that the body she found on the battlefield the day after the 1066 Battle of Hastings was indeed that of her late husband.

Sally Holloway kept the whole thing running smoothly and opened the show with a piece about the famous, or perhaps infamous, DFLs (down from London) while Mike and Michele parried with a sketch about a London couple shocked and appalled by the ‘Up From Hastings’ crowd.

With songs from Mike on a diverse range of subjects including Prince Philip and Harley Shute Road it really was an entertaining and very amusing evening’s entertainment delivered with great professionalism to an intimate audience and with the added bonus of complimentary cake in the interval.

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