Kirsty Allison and the Children of The Burning Sun, support from Batang Kalai, Nicci McCretton

Bridport Literary Fringe

Lyric Theatre, Bridport

The inaugural Bridport Literary Fringe offered the chance to explore some of the further reaches of Bridport’s literary arts scene.

The fringe; where we often find the more interesting stories, notes scribbled in the margins, read between lines, the postcards from the edge. The fringe allows for some of these most compelling stories to be told in the most uncompromising ways:

A projection screen which warns us that “some individuals may find the following disturbing”. This momentary changes to “some disturbed individuals may not...”

This is a rare moment of humour in a visual and aural onslaught from Batang Kali, the post-punk/heavy-rock duo whose work with Veterans For Peace - an organisation of ex-servicemen and women - aims to promote the simple philosophy that “war is not the solution to the problems we face in the 21st century”.

Batang Kali uses a barrage of bass and drums to recreate the emotive horror of war. Recordings made by members of VFP play in time over the music; poems, statements, regarding the front line, PTSD, abuse. None of it is easy listening, or pleasant viewing, as the images of war and devastation play out on the projection screen. Yet, somehow, Batang Kali manages to channel all of that into a powerful and entertaining experience.

It could feel incongruous, to have a stand-up next, but it’s the perfect light relief. Niki McCretton's disarmingly honest stories of ‘everyday life in Bridport’ and the ingenious and anarchic games she plays to amuse herself on market days, works perfectly to ground us again. Nicci is rebellious, comforting and very funny.

The headline act, Children of The Burning Sun, is the new project from writer/artist Kirsty Allison and musician Gil de Ray.

Kirsty speaks, softly sings, then spits, shouts, croaks and chokes out her words over a dreamscape of tremolo strings and flanged chords. Tales of debauchery and despair played out over post-rock and tabla beats. Kirsty takes us on a personal journey through Shakespeare's Shoreditch to sunbleached deserts, all bright lights and burnt out stars.

If the drum and bass of Batang Kali were used to represent war and pestilence, then here are the other two horsemen: Gil a western shaman hungry for the blues, and Kirsty - for all her power and vitality on stage - like some blonde Death come to meet us all!

There are times when you can tell this is a new project, but that makes it more exciting to see where The Children of The Burning Sun take this confrontational and cathartic performance next.

For now, though, the four horsemen have retreated - this is no apocalypse - but they gave us a truly visceral and cerebral show; a glimpse of the frayed edges of the fringe.