Month: August 2017

Two Woodcrofts

“Three days after my childhood home was sold I am in Scotland, in a Mornigside flat, recalling a Swansea house as old as this brushed sandstone place is new. I cajole significance into the misty-eyed coincidence that just after the Merrow house was sold I find a Morningside welcome in the cool and confident Scottish Woodcroft allied (by me) to a Welsh Woodcroft of old.”  – from ‘Two Woodcrofts’, in London Poems (WetZebra2016) by Robert Cole.merrow_0027

Super Cally Fragile Lipstick

Super Cally

Super Cally Fragile Lipstick (13.25pm, Venue 27, nr Grasmarket) is the Edinburgh Fringe show with the best name. Not only is it a great play on words, it is bang-on appostite. It is also poetic, which is a thing for me if no one else.

Cally’s jokes are good and her delivery refreshingly bright without having that faux-hyperness that you see with some standups. There are excursions into the blue (if you get my drift) but it’s all pretty innocent. I especially liked her apology for being a little late to the show. “I was waylaid,” she explained.

The most engaging aspect is the fragility, though. I reckon she could do more with it, actually, although the judgements here are knife-edge tricky. Until recently it would have been unthinkable to make comedy out of autism in the way Cally does. The key to her success here is that she warm hearted, thoughtful, considered, and twinklingly funny.

Disclaimer: I have come to know Cally by bumping into her on the circuit a couple of times, so my comments here cannot be taken as entirely objective. They do, I hope, benefit from more-than-superficial familiarity with the work.

First review – Broadway Baby

First review of #manandboy from @broadwaybaby

By Laura Pujos

Man And Boy is a perfectly poetic way to punctuate an otherwise hectic day at the Fringe. The premise of the show is that a “middle-aged English fat bloke” called Robert Cole reads out a selection of poems from his newly published collection London Poems, joined by his nephew Ed, and later in the run, his son Maurice.

Understated and unusual, Man And Boy achieved a stillness and tranquility in the room that is probably hard to find elsewhere at the festival.

The poems are divided into three sections, Family, Form and Fate, separated by brief musical interludes, with Ed on keyboard. The set-up is beautifully simple. The two men sit in front of you, void of a stage, while a table of poetry books and family photos construct their set. The small space heightens the intimacy as Cole shares with the audience snippets of his life. There’s something so calming, amongst the bustle of the Fringe, about just sitting and listening for 50 minutes, letting his words wash over you.

The poetry collection itself is “grounded in geography”, the people and experiences that Cole connects with and a, somewhat surprisingly green, London landscape. Despite a background in finance, Cole writes not about the city grind but uses the natural world as a springboard for thinking about the human journey, with both its wonders and sadness, and reflecting tenderly on family.

Cole’s writing displays influences including Philip Larkin, and employs a variety of technically challenging forms such as the sestina and the villanelle, but is unpretentious and absolutely not limited to poetry fans. One could go away and plumb the poems’ depths at greater length, but they also have an immediately aesthetic quality. Cole’s straightforward, conversational style of expression and attention to sound patterning work well in spoken word performance, enhanced by the musical element of the reading.

Understated and unusual, Man And Boy achieved a stillness and tranquility in the room that is probably hard to find elsewhere at the festival. The abstraction of the show’s title captures the universality of the thoughts and feelings Cole explores, that will leave you feeling both happy and sad, much like life itself.

#myquoteoftheday

“In the unremembered lessons learned and / heartfelt instincts that we know we know; in sight / and taste, in smell, feelings and sound; in mixed / 5alice rosecompany and alone; we share our home.

Poetry is toxic

Poetry is toxic. The very word ‘poetry’ is a turn off for all but the hardiest of Edinburgh Festival and Fringe goers. It is more than toxic, actually. It is positively repulsive.

So yes, it is far far more difficult to attract audiences than I thought and with 3500 shows to compete with, it is freaking demanding on the first place.

There is very good news, though. The people that have come to #manandboy @edfringe @thespaceuk (venue 260, 6pm, £6) have really appreciated it. How do I know? Because about 50 percent of the punters have bought one of my books. That is one-hell of a hit rate.

Week one is nearly over. It has been a blast, and one hell of an experience. Yup: I have learned more about what I should not be doing than what I am doing, but that is undeniable a good thing. Roll on weeks two and three!

EdinTeaserRC

 

 

Carol Ann Duffy

Carol Ann Duffy. Discuss. (NB I have just seen her at the stand.co.uk @edfringe.)

pin cushion

pin cushion

Vulnerabilty

It is 30 mins to go to the next #manandboy @edfringe @thespaceuk @jurysinn and I am feeling quite vulnerable. Interesting.Flyer8