The Arts Festival has traditionally had street events to start the proceedings and this year we were treated to the sight of First World War tanks skirmishing with each other in the gun garden. Not the actual tanks, of course, that would have required demolishing a large chunk of the citadel to get them there, but two beautifully made and detailed radio-controlled models.
In fact only one dated back to a First World War design, as its German opponent had suffered mechanical problems – a frequent happening with the real things at the time, too – and so a later Second World War vintage tank was substituted.
Introduced by Town Crier Paul Goring, the tanks manoeuvred around the gun garden and producing their own realistic sound effects of gunfire and engine noise, were objects of fascination for the many spectators.
A talk by Dame Joan Ruddock was the first official event of the Festival, but at an afternoon reception given by the organisers in the Rye Art Gallery, Arts Festival chairman Mike Eve formally opened the Festival.
That evening saw the excellent Richard Suart and Bryan Evans perform their ‘A Matter of Patter’ at the Milligan Theatre.
It was performed almost in the style of an Edwardian after-dinner entertainment with piano, a standard lamp and performers in front of, rather an on, the stage, almost among the audience. The first half was devoted to Gilbert and Sullivan with, as the name of the show suggested, a number of their ‘patter’ songs, beginning with the Nightmare Song from Iolanthe and travelling via more Iolanthe, Patience, Ruddigore and The Mikado (Tit Willow and I’ve got them on my list, being the ‘must have’ songs here), to the wonderful and highly satirical I am the ruler of the Queen’s Navee – with audience participation – to end the first half.
After a short interval and a glass of wine, they were back with a different flavour of music. Noel Coward – Nina from Argentina and Mad Dogs and Englishmen, among others – followed by a Flanders and Swann selection, a lesser known piece from Joseph Horovitz and finally, with a true flavour of the ’60s the wonderful, cynical and satirical Tom Lehrer with Poisoning Pigeons In The Park, the Masochism Tango and other dark but very funny favourites of his.
Intermingled with all this, Richard Suart kept up a ready flow of anecdotes, some very funny, on the songwriters and other, often unrelated subjects.
Altogether an excellent evening in front of a packed-out theatre and carried out by two artists who showed themselves to be highly professional in the art of pure entertainment.
Image Credits: John Minter .