New to the world of spoken word poetry, I sat down to Poetry Circus’ ‘Broken Hearts’ fearing an evening of excessively tragic laments and elegies to lost love. Instead, I saw performances with a lighthearted, whimsical approach to the theme of love and loss which, while ebullient, were often extremely moving. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised by two hours filled with laughter and love.
With over 15 different performers, ‘Broken Hearts’ was a wild ride of diverse outlooks on love expressed in a multitude of manners. Of course, many poets took the traditional route, reading their carefully crafted words aloud with immense gravitas.
Rach Leonard’s striking mime performance is best described as physical poetry. Slowly and calculatedly, shooting cheeky glances at the audience, she set up a table and two chairs on stage, followed by plates and forks. Sitting at the table, she fidgeted, checking her phone: even without words, it was obvious she was waiting for a date. As the audience geared up to share in the horror of being stood up, Leonard pulled out a Happy Meal bag and placed it on the table. Grinning brazenly, she then produced a sex toy out of the bag – cheekily representing the reality that, regardless of however much we strive for the love of others, it’s important to love oneself first.
Another highlight was Gray Crosbie’s reading of a poem about the irrational actions we make to distract ourselves from heartbreak; his story was about longing for a jammy dodger biscuit when your ex has eaten the last one. The discovery that the ‘new and improved recipe’ was no longer vegan led the narrator to tear biscuits from their packaging in nostalgic anguish, smearing the red filling amidst morning shoppers who tread over ‘your name / Written in jam’.
Elise Hadgraft and Lloyd Robinson read their poems to music. They had two unique styles – Hadgraft performing to electronic music and Robinson to acoustic guitar. In both cases, the backing track intensified the raw emotion of their words and added a new dimension to the poetry. It wasn’t rap; it didn’t superimpose the music so much as complement it. This combination created a unique approach to spoken word, a new performance art in itself.
I could go on. Each and every performer had their own wonderfully nuanced style and not a single one fell short. Unfortunately this was ‘Broken Hearts’ was Poetry Circus’ final performance until August 2018. However, I urge everyone to catch them at Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It was an absolute pleasure to spend an evening with such talented performers sharing their personal experiences of love and heartbreak.
‘Broken Hearts’ by Poetry Circus took place at The Bongo Club on Friday 16 January.
Image: David Goehring via Flickr.