Review: Loud Poets – La La Loud

 

Friday 31st March, The Mash House, Edinburgh.

A whistle-stop tour: Loud Poets don their glad rags for La La Loud, a spoken word evening with an emotional core beneath the razzle dazzle. Catherine, Doug, Katie and Kevin are funny and welcoming hosts who perform with style and heart. In-house band Ekobirds lends the evening added poignancy and humour.

It begins with an open mic. Emma Atkin – up first, laughing nervously – holds the audience transfixed with her understated delivery and desperately sad narrative: ‘I was never meant to be the only one.’ Stuart Kenny, fast-paced and playing with words, offers rueful, relatable observations: ‘His newsfeed asked him what was on his mind, one day he realized what was on his mind was what was on his newsfeed’. Finally, Georgia Bartlett-McNeil proclaims a body positivity anthem, caressing her ‘denim cased man crushers’. The audience whoop, and the next chapter begins.

‘This is a battle to reclaim romance!’ storms Captain of the Rant. He harnesses body and voice as he indicts labels and the dream of perfection; at times dryly humorous, at others raging, then again petulant or dramatic. The audience are rapt, enlisted for the cause.

Jess Smith is charming, builds easy rapport. She begins with a funny, plaintive plea for America to ‘do your fucking dishes’. Later, to the La La Land theme, she says ‘You told me I was made of glass’ – ‘you didn’t have to drop me just to be sure’. Our hearts break a little.

Erin McFadyen is lovely to listen to, painting images onto our imagined canvas ‘we stand there with two muddy feet, each’. Her poems reference Maya Angelou and her wish ‘to not call anything that’s about my feelings chick lit’.

‘ROBERT BURNS!’ proclaims Chris Henson, as the audience flinch, ‘in describing a red red rose used the word red twice’. His dressing down of the bard leaves us laughing helplessly. Another poem is broken up by jaunty singing and perfectly-measured eyebrow raises. With a showman’s point to the air, he exits.

Bex Sherwood begins by unleashing a fusillade of rhyming slang at the laughing audience, dissolving into laughter herself at points – ‘I know she wants to get into his Adam Ants’. Her Edinburgh Fringe poem perfectly evokes the hot August streets ‘rows of locals pray’/‘we sacrifice this university a cappella group in your name’.

Mark Gallie is funny and eloquent, and his love poem for The One he has not met yet elicits a chorus of sighs. ‘We nearly met a million times’. He could woo the world with words. His vulnerability is cast aside in his Pokémon tribute – ‘You call us aggressive, I prefer primal’.

Topics range from the intimately personal to the overtly political. In form and style they likewise differ, with clever rhyming wordplay succeeded by vivid prose imagery interspersed by rousing slam poems. The best moments combine stylistic skill and emotional weight – notably, Katie Ailes, Jess Smith, and Captain of the Rant. The evening is varied but never discordant, stylish without being superficial. A lovely night.

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