Last weekend I found myself at the most middle-class of festivals, Latitude (or Lahtitude, as it was referred to by more than one chipper left-wing comedian.) I say ‘found myself’ – obviously I paid for a ticket and went, so it’s not like it was an accident. But anyway.
For those of you not familiar with this icon of polite festival-going, it is a bit like the older, slightly-past-it-but-still-quite-cool sister (definitely a sister) of Glastonbury. Families go there with young children. Lots of young children; there’s a family camping area and a kids festival bit, for God’s sake. Teenagers go there too, but they seem to be the probably-usually-very-well-behaved public school-educated but left-leaning offspring of bankers you may also find in Rock (the King’s Road of Cornwall), given special permission to go by their parents because, well, it’s not Glastonbury.
Anyway, I liked Latitude a lot because as well as having bands (like Passion Pit, who my sister told me to go and see because she is a lot cooler than me, and Grace Jones, Thom Yorke, The Doves and The Editors, all of whom I found all by myself), it also had a comedy tent, a literary tent, and a theatre tent. These things please me, because this is all the kind of stuff I usually miss seeing enough of in London because I am poor/disorganised/drinking/all of the above.
A highlight for me was the RSC’s exclusive Latitude event – a project they supposedly collaborated on with the Sussex Witch Hunting Society, or something. I say supposedly because I couldn’t work out whether it was complete fiction or a bit truthful. Basically, for half an hour at midnight in the theatre tent (which was massive, actually, with people crammed in all over the shop, sitting on the floor, standing at the back…) turned into this dark and creepy little world where someone playing a lady from the Sussex Witch Society thing told us all about the 12 witches found buried on the Latitude camping site. Interspersed were snippets of stories from the lives of three witches put to trial in Sussex; three of the 12 bodies found by the Sussex Society of Witches lady.
I’m being flippant, but it was a brilliant bit of theatre. Chilling. Beautifully acted. And quite an amazing experience, to be sat there in your smelly festival clothes while the RSC’s finest explored one of the several darker periods of British history.
My only criticism is that the piece didn’t make it clear whether the research referred to in the play was real or created completely for the purposes of the play. I would imagine it’s real research, but a bit more attention paid to the character of the archeologist working on the dig would have added even more atmosphere to a dark and spooky tale…