Brighton Fringe 2016
Loud Poets promise poetry for the masses – and they delivered with aplomb. This is big, this is bold, this is loud (unsurprisingly). A slick show that is far more than a poetry reading – Loud Poets have an undeniable passion and energy, and a live band.
Opening with a video sequence of some of the group members talking about why they write, the tone for the show is set early on. There are laughs, there is emotion, there is honesty, and there is well-honed comedic timing. The video clips resurface in between individual performances, adding a neat additional dimension to the show.
This isn’t your standard poetry night. Every poet, without exception, is an outstanding performer. Passion and energy are the order of the night, but the structure of the show also allows for the dynamic to move from funny to reflective to emotive and back again. The band, consisting of keyboard, guitar and percussion box, provide a wonderful foundation for words to trampoline from the stage and bounce around the cosy Theatre Box at The Warren. The format of the performance has clearly been well considered, and tells a story in itself.
Rachel Rankin’s pun-heavy name-dropping soliloquy about writing was the first reading of the night, followed by Kevin McClean and Doug Garry passionately (and occasionally aggressively) exhuming the trauma of being a geek in a world full of trendies. Catherine Wilson and Lloyd Robinson continue the light-hearted material until Katie Ailes takes the stage with a more serene tone. At this point the material becomes far more emotionally involved, and earlier performers return one-by-one, taking in subjects including love, heartbreak, loss, advice, anxiety and America. The strength of commitment from each performer holds the attention, but one of the stand-out features of the night is the accessibility of each creation. Language is neatly crafted and beautifully structured, and every single word was both relatable and understandable. This is the biggest strength of Loud Poets, making good on their promise that this is poetry for the masses.
Staging is simple but effective – one to four performers on the mic at any one time, with their name or photograph projected behind them and the band performing to their left. Dressed all in black, and with well-balance mood lighting, the show fits well into the cosy space, and minimal lighting changes are well utilised to add a drop of colour here and there. If I had one complaint, it’s that at very rare times the band were louder than the poets, making it difficult to hear.
I found myself engaged by what I was hearing. Not only that, but also motivated to give it a go myself. That’s something I can very rarely say when I hear poetry, as often I’m overwhelmed by inaccessible language or self-indulgent fart-arsery. (A man of language, me?) None of that could be said for Loud Poets. I would consider myself to be their target audience, and I came out feeling moved and enthused for more. Audience reaction and the energy in the room was overwhelmingly positive.
This show succeeds 100% in its mission. Not only that, but the structure and format of the show deserves recognition for leading the audience on a highly evocative journey, with a clear beginning, middle and end. A wonderfully engaging show, this is highly recommended whether or not you are a fan of poetry.