Another day at the festival and another sighting of Diane Abbott. This time the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington turned up at a screening of Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey, Lelia Doolan's precis of the life of Bernadette Devlin McAliskey. I say precis, because as Doolan herself acknowledged, her 88-minute documentary is cut down from three hours.
As it stands, this version covers Devlin's entry into Parliament at 21, her arrest for inciting violence in the Bogside riots and her subsequent involvement in the hunger strikes of 1980-81. It all goes quiet after an attempt on her life in 1981, and her disillusionment with the peace process that led to the Good Friday Agreement was a curiosity to me. I asked Doolan if McAliskey chose not to be involved or if she were excluded and her answer was contradictory. So, let's have that three-hour version to fill in the gaps! Abbott might agree, as she called the doc amazing. One might speculate as to why the MP (who was sitting front and centre, not to the left) might find common ground with an outsider who professed to not want to be part of any club. But, that would be speculation.
Closer to home, I was less impressed with Strawberry Fields, which has its world premiere tonight. Frances Lea's melodrama, a Microwave project, is set on a strawberry farm in Kent and centres on the group of fruit pickers, introduced as being a motley band of immigrants and rogues. That might have been interesting but the focus is actually on a newcomer to the group, the flighty Gillian, who goes incognito as Tammy. The performance by Anna Madeley is twitchy and irritating and when her even more dizzy sister Emily arrives, the irritation levels go through the roof. Emily is meant to be troubled, possibly mentally ill, but as played by Christine Bottomley (excellent in last year's The Arbor), she seems to be channeling Marilyn Monroe, breathy-voiced and flirty. It gets worse, much worse. Nice fruit, though.