Only really second to inadequate toilet facilities, a major problem of going to festivals is choosing what do to next, particularly when there are clashes between some really exciting events – and when there is as much choice and variety as demonstrated at the Latitude Festival, Suffolk’s annual celebration of music, comedy and arts, this problem is made considerably worse. Now in its 12th year, the problem is showing no sign of slowing down. Here’s our review of the final day of Latitude Festival 2017, where we saw no fewer than eleven different shows in a mix of theatre, music, comedy, literature, animation and science:
Variety is very much the spice of Latitude, in terms of tone and content; examples of light and shade were in abundance everywhere throughout the festival. For example, today saw Paul Barritt‘s dark “Cat & Mouse” show being performed in the Theatre tent; a combination of surreal black and white animation on a big screen, with music from a live rock band sporting over-the-top costumes. Challenging to both the eye and the ear, it was difficult to know what to focus on, or indeed why. Similarly heavy going (although with occasional touches of comedy) was Middle Child Theatre‘s epic tragicomic musical “All We Ever Wanted Was Everything”, over in the Cabaret Theatre. Telling the stories of two millennials – starting with their births in the late 80s all the way up to adulthood in the present day – the show followed the main characters as they slowly matured through the decades. Accompanied by an ever-changing musical pallet to represent the setting, it was all at once ambitious, powerful and huge in scale, but also personal and poignant. Lead by a strong, dedicated performance from its narrator, the show was full of youthful passion, heartfelt tragedy and intense earnestness – not to mention, a tad exhausting!
But on the other hand, over in the Comedy tent, things were considerably lighter in tone. Headliners Andy Parsons and Simon Amstell very much had their fans in stitches throughout their sets, as did Australian stand-up comedian Aisling Bea, whose surprise appearance was totally unannounced. Relative newcomer to stand-up Tom Allen – who we exclusively interviewed before the festival – was also very much on form, although his style of waspish comedy may not be to everyone’s taste; but less successful was a short set from newcomer Lolly Adefope, who performed some funny but sadly not hugely original character-based comedy.
The ever-popular Simon Amstall was also part of Mark Kermode Live In 3D, in the Music & Film Arena, which was a very enjoyable trip through upcoming movies, much more enjoyable Mark’s conversation with Paul Greengrass the day before. Also fun was Bruno Vincent‘s “Choose Your Own Jolly Adventure” over at The Speakeasy, where the popular author took the audience on a gentlly pleasant – and interactive – jaunt, as he read a whimsical yet modernised (and mostly family-friendly) take on the classic Famous Five books, with the added bonus of the audience deciding the direction of the story.
Also family-friendly was Read Your DNA Live in the Wellcome Trust Arena. A fascinating look inside the human body, it playfully uncovered the sort of bacteria each of us have, including involving three children from the audience to have a ‘who’s got the dirtiest mouth’ contest.
But for out-and-out fun, nothing could come close to the incomparable Divine Comedy who performed a perfect set of hits and popular album tracks – including 90s classics “Something For The Weekend” and “National Express”, as well as their more recent single “Catherine The Great” – at the Obelisk Arena. Lead singer and songwriter Neil Hannon effortlessly projected his aura of joy onto the packed main stage audience from the very beginning; a perfect Summer’s delight, it simply couldn’t have been any better.
All in all, the final day of Latitude 2017 was a bit of a mixed bag, with peaks and troughs – not entirely unlike the festival as a whole to be honest – but there was certainly enough going on across the four days to keep any festival goer entertained, with some occasional unmissable highlights.