This month brought Gary from Leeds to the Keystone, trying out his “work in progress”, GARIBALDI. It’s his new show for the Edinburgh Fringe. I can’t make remarks about March Hairs and Hatters, as this was the 4th of April. Anyway as Gary says, his hair is history and there were lots of better jokes, as well as good poems, in this hour-long piece. We can see “Garibaldi” making an impact on Edinburgh Fringe audiences at least as great as last year’s “Yeti”.
The idea that Gary as a name – the tribe of Gary – is under threat from history – is one of the running jokes, and Gary’s talent for irony and tragedy, as well as his off-beat sense of humour, makes it a brilliant concept for him to play with. He describes himself as “an envoy or missionary spreading northern gloom through the medium of verse”. That doesn’t inhibit the laughter, though.
Interludes of sadness, corny running jokes and stretches of pure poetry, comic self-deprecation, acute observation made comic by stinging words, a list of hairdressing accoutrements bitterly recited to the background of “Imagine” - the show has all the originality and dynamism to make it a hit in Edinburgh. Its depths and heights will be honed by nightly rehearsal. I almost wrote “nightly repetition” but Gary has a talent for interaction with his audiences that will keep the performance developing. It’s a piece that would bear seeing over again, to pick up more of its nuances. No more spoilers: I’ll leave my comments there.
Dónall Dempsey, hosting the night, read some of his new poems, and an older one that he wrote for our friend Ingrid, who sadly died at the end of last year. Ingrid was a singer-songwriter who had featured at our events in 2013 and 2014 at the Bar des Arts.
She was a lovely, warm person and her sudden death was a great shock to her friends. Dónall remembered talking with her about singing, and he wrote “ Song Sing Me” to read at her funeral, but was crying too much to read it clearly, so this was the first time I’d heard it. He followed it up tonight by singing “The Curragh of Kildare”, a haunting song by Christie Moore.
“Gran’s First Flight” was based on a true story, and so was “Like Music made Visible”, about Tilly laughing unseen. “How the Black Shines” is a very early visual memory, as Dónall explained. You can read the poems on “Stage to Page “, here.
And last but certainly not least came Eddie Chauncy. Eddie obviously observes the opposite gender very carefully: his poems about their handbags (following women about, at their shoulder, ready to serve) and "The Kiss", might have been written by a slightly jaundiced lover/narrator but "Books", about loyalty and traditional love, restored the balance that Eddie in reality enjoys.
Next month on May 2nd we feature Alex Twyman and Becky Fury at the Keystone. Sign up for the Open Mic from 7pm.
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Janice & Dónall Dempsey
We are poets, writers, spoken word performers, editors and organisers of spoken word events, based in the United Kingdom.