Edinburgh Fringe 2018
Wordshow is a show about words. Lots of words. Clever words, funny words, dry words, sardonic words. Words, words, words. Comedy for thinking people.
Greg Byron, the alter ego of Fringe doyen Gavin Robertson, is angry. Which means he’s awake. And firing out words like bullets from a machine gun. Fast, fiery, punchy, on target. What do you mean, you’re not angry? Are you awake?
Wide awake is the one thing you need to be at Byron’s latest Fringe epic, Wordshow, which does exactly what it suggests in its title. It’s a show full of words. Lots of words. Clever words, funny words, dry words, sardonic words. Words, words, words.
Wordshow is a collection of seemingly unrelated stories, mostly delivered through lyrical, expressive poems but occasionally through the simple spoken word. But, if you listen hard enough, there’s a theme.
Subjects come and go in the blinking of an eye. We had letters to and from America, Trump given a hard time and Brexit bashed, together with an airing of the injustice in what Byron sees as the growing inequality inherent in many Western economies. But the political scepticism, cynicism even, is never rammed down the audience’s throat, largely due to his extensive lexicon which allows him to construct verse that twists and turns through humour, on to the serious point he then subliminally imparts and then back to the humour again.
Byron’s comic timing is impeccable. He knows just where to accelerate the delivery, exactly where to place the pause and for how long, before releasing the punch line into the auditorium and allowing the audience time to digest and then appreciate it.
There are stories about himself as an adolescent, his family as it developed, Galileo and possibly the most interesting poem ever written about mathematics which looked at Fibonacci theory. The Charge of the Bank Brigade was brief and bloody and his lexicological dexterity was further demonstrated with a series of fifty-five word pieces on completely disparate topics.
That’s Byron’s strength. He sees a topic that might yield a poem or story and then researches it in meticulous detail before producing final verse that not only entertains but also informs. And his agile mind sees connections between subjects beyond the ken of most practitioners of this art form which enables him to produce segue ways that somehow bind the evening together.
Words are most definitely the star in this truly excellent hour of storytelling. You could tell from the buzz as the packed audience reluctantly filtered its way out into another dank Edinburgh evening that they felt refreshed, rejuvenated, minds buzzing with the hypotheses Byron aired and the stories he’d told. Rarely have I heard the spoken word deliver so much with so little apparent effort. But every word clearly matters to Byron. As he said up-front, if you’re not angry, are you awake?
An excellent show for people who like their comedy to make them think.