After a day of theatre, sometimes you just need to kick back and unwind with something totally different. Enter Loud Poets: Best of Fringe. Loud Poets begun in 2014 as a showcase for the artform with a monthly event in Edinburgh. And for the duration of the Fringe, that monthly show is instead getting a daily rollout.
Some will argue spoken word isn’t strictly theatre, or that poetry isn’t for them at all, our compare for tonight Mark Gallie suggests as much when he jokes about handing out flyers in the street and the reaction he sometimes gets when he tells people it’s a poetry event. But those doubters would be wrong and missing out on a fantastic evening that showcases just what a diverse artform it really is.
Gallie is one of the people heavily behind the whole Loud Poets events, and his enthusiasm is contagious as he invites the audience to relax and savour what is being offered up. Effort has gone into making the evening accessible for all, spoken word virgins or old hands alike. The show is split into three “rounds”, a way to mix up what we’re hearing.
The first round has the opportunity to bring an element of embarrassment to the three artists we’re about to see, with the remit being to perform the first piece of poetry they ever wrote. Two of the three tonight (each night features different poets) recite works from their childhood years, although the standard is a little higher than what most people would have written at 10 years old; it does make you wonder if they aren’t being quite as honest as the round asks for! The third, Mhairi McCall, provides something a little more recent, apparently only taking up writing poetry in her mid-twenties, but clearly something she was born to do.
Round two sees all three hit the stage together as they are given a random word and asked to offer up a piece of their work that fits. It is quite incredible to watch performers step up to the mic and recite, generally unaided, whole pieces of their poetry almost without hesitation. Well, except for Kevin P Gilday, who is very subtly plugging his new book which he waves around for all to see, and manages to mention it almost as much as he mentions his own show on at the Fringe this year. And as much as Gilday’s poem about a drunken late night failure to perform is quite the showstopper for its rather graphic imagery, it is possibly Ellen Renton who steals the round with her piece “Don’t Make Me A War Poet”, a stunning piece delivered with the audience in absolute silence to take in her words.
The last round is a chance for the three performers to showcase their works to an audience already in awe of the talent. Each returning to the stage alone to recite pre-planned prose, again demonstrating the range of what spoken word poetry has to offer.
Loud Poets is a fantastic way to introduce spoken word to a whole new audience. The charm and welcoming nature of the lovely venue along with the standard of the performances is irresistible. It’s also a show that will be different each and every night, meaning a second visit is not out of the question for anyone who finds a new found love for this oft under appreciated artform.
Written and performed by: Mhairi McCall, Kevin P Gilday, Ellen Renton
Creative Director: Kevin Mclean
Art Director: Perry Jonsson
Co-director: Mark Gallie
Producers: Katie Ailes, Mark Gallie & Bex Sherwood
Booking link: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/loud-poets-best-of-fringe
Booking until: 26 August 2019 (Edinburgh) plus monthly events.