Altamont

If you want to know what it felt like to be part of one of the most disastrous free concerts of the '60s, this atmospheric show is a good place to start.

The lack of a personal response to what is happening is a real failing, as the character never really moves beyond being merely the eyes and ears of the audience.

The show follows the experiences of a concert-goer to the infamous Altamont free concert, the final stop on a Rolling Stones tour in the late '60s that went badly wrong. We see the happy, optimistic people approach, sit around, get high, and then we watch as the whole thing descends into chaos.

The scope of the show is impressive. John Stenhouse (who both wrote and stars in the show) does a great job of tapping into the spirit of the age and conveying it. There is a strong sense of intimacy and fellow-feeling between all the people we meet, which is all the more striking for being so different from our own era. The transition into the unsettling end of the festival is depicted with a creeping sense of claustrophobia which is particularly effective in the intimate space.

Stenhouse is a strong performer. He portrays his somewhat cliched character effectively, and handles the range of secondary characters he has created with skill. Particularly enjoyable is his Mick Jagger impression.

The aspect of the show that feels the most lacking is the personality of the central character. After an hour in his company, I didn't feel I really knew anything about him. His responses to different situations are either those of a wide-eyed observer or of predictable shock. The lack of a personal response to what is happening is a real failing, as the character never really moves beyond being merely the eyes and ears of the audience. The show clearly achieves what it sets out to do; it’s only a shame it doesn’t set out to do a bit more.

Reviews by Grace Knight

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

As dusk descends on the Rolling Stones' free festival, celebration turns to carnage bringing the 60s peace and love ethos to a violent end. Joe's belief in the power of music is put to the test as he becomes caught up in the crazy events of this often forgotten landmark concert. From hippy dancing chicks to terrifying Hell's Angels, Altamont is one man's experience of life, death and music. Teamed with Peppermint Muse's Lavender Junction and Hyde & Seek. 'A remarkable and inspiring performance - a virtuoso production of a moving and perceptive play' (Herts Advertiser).