Contemporary short fiction, poetry and more

Review: UnityWords at Unity Works, Wakefield, 24 February 2016.

It was a new event. It will be a monthly event. My esteemed colleague, Ralph Dartford, would have us believe that it will be a big event. Not just a big event, but a massive event. An event that it would take an airliner travelling at 650 mph 1800 years to circumnavigate.

First up was Rob Reed. I knew him already from an event at the Red Shed. This was the first time I had the chance of hearing his doing a complete set.

I have tried my hardest to find something negative to say about Rob Reed’s set, but this attempt has failed.

There was a moment when I thought he might be descending from humour into buffoonery, but that moment only lasted about 0.0125 of a second. Yes, there was buffoonery, but it was, like the rest of the performance, expertly handled. Anything that is expertly handled cannot be buffoonery.

He did a piece, the gist of which was, “My fridge is a wanker”. It worked. I don’t mean that it valiantly went down, fighting. I mean that it worked.

He had a recurring theme, which I won’t describe, in case he wants to use it again, but it was contemporary to get the audience to foreshadow the jokes that they themselves were expected to laugh at. This was the seemless merging of performance poetry with stand-up comedy. The people who attend spoken word events don’t care what the hell you do, as long as you are in control of your medium. All the time that Rob Reed was turning pages in his notebook and making small-talk with the audience, there was not a single syllable uttered that he was not in complete control of.

Ordinarily, I would be telling you that Rob Reed ran the whole thing, but, on this occasion, I am not.

A woman called Louise Fazackerley turned up. She was the headline performer.

How can I be expected to describe my reaction to Louise Fazackerley’s performance? It isn’t easy, even for me.

She used hand gestures and bodily movement, masterfully.

She used her voice, her absolutely unlistenable Lancashire-accented voice, masterfully.

The subject matter of her poems was heart-breaking, amazing, and wonderful.

She used backing-tracks masterfully.

She did for spoken-word performance what Donald Bradman did for cricket. I am going to go back to my scrag-hole and try to re-think my whole approach to this activity. I think I am a pretty bloody fantastic performance poet, but if I am ever going to appear on the same bill as Louise Fazackerley, I am going to have to do much, much better.


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