Latitude 2010: keeping up with the horror crabs at Robin Ince's Book Club
Andrew Mickel22 July 2010
Latitude, Suffolk's annual music and arts extravaganza, kicked off last weekend with the kind of veritable feast that many arts lover’s have become accustomed to since its launch upon the festival scene five years ago.
Establishing itself as one of the leading arts festivals in the UK, Latitude has made its name by providing what has been lacking at over festivals over the past couple of years, with separate but well positioned arenas for comedy, poetry, theatre, cabaret and literature as well as various smaller arts spaces around the festival site.
Of course with choice comes the dilemma of what to see. There is such a plethora of acts that it is impossible to sample barely half of what is on offer.
Festival organisers chose a festival veteran to kick off proceedings at the comedy stage on Friday with Canadian comic Craig Campbell running though a number of his observational musings of being a Canadian living in the UK.
From how the British are the most nonchalant race when it comes to personal safety to why you should respect a man who has a reputation for sexual relations with a moose. It was standard stock from Campbell but at least worthy enough to warm up the crowd for the weekend’s comedy line-up, which included none other than Ardal O’Hanlon, Rich Hall, Emo Philips, Tommy Tiernan and Phill Jupitus.
Our own personal highlights however were drawn from the comedy taking place on the Literary arena where many of the smaller acts are given a stage to cut their festival teeth. Robin Ince's bookclub has grown into some kind of Latitude Institution, bringing in dozens of acts to either provide small snippets of their acts or help improvise a new routine on the spot.
This year Ince has grown particularly fond of the books by Guy N Smith, who in the 1980s published a series of raunchy, sex-filled horror novels about giant crabs attempting to take over the world.
With the aid of an improvised orchestra, which included two sword players, backing vocals from Josie Long and Joanna Neary and visual effects by improviser Neil Edmund, Ince and fellow wordsmith Robin Hitchcock managed to recreate the Horror of the snapping to re-enact various scenes.
It might not have been comedy gold but seeing two-dozen performers in an ode to terrible prose at 1am was surreal enough to award marks for effort alone.
If anything though, Latitude 2010 was simply busier than previous years. Milling over the festival arena like ants, the sheer difference in numbers was enough to make some people recoil in horror – and they had a point. Organisers of the event had increased capacity to 35,000 this year and it is questionable whether the site could cope with it.
Both Mark Thomas and Mark Watson had lines of festival-goers queuing up hoping to catch a glimpse of their performances in vain, while queues for food seemed to echo those seen on BBC docu-drama on inner-city soviet poverty.
However though the increasing popularity does have it’s negative sides, there is no doubt that Latitude at least endeavours to produce unique quality entertainment. I finished my weekend gazing over the site’s lake listening to the comic genius of Daniel Kitson and musician Gavin Osborn with their Stories for a Starlit Sky.
'Stories are best told in an enclosed quiet space with a small audience’ said Kitson as he looked around him at the thousands gathered to under a thankfully cloudless night to hear him read in the open air with the bass of the Cabaret tent coming from over the horizon.
In short Latitude provides a different festival experience which is enticing and eclectic. Worth a visit.
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