Edinburgh Fringe Reviews: Jess Green and Rowan McCabe

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As you may be aware the Edinburgh Fringe is well under way. Every August the entire city is taken over by comedians, thespians, promoters, poets, musicians and all manner of downright weirdos in what has become the third largest event on the planet after the Olympics and the World Cup.

Spoken Word events are well represented this year, and while at the festival I am spending some of my less bleary-eyed hours attending as many of them as I can.  The poetry fan has scores of poetry and story-telling events from which to select so if you are considering a visit yourself you may find these reviews to be helpful, as may be my guide to a selection of free spoken word Fringe shows published a week or so ago:  Ready to do EdFringe without a Single Ticket?.  


A Self-Help Guide to Being in Love with Jeremy Corbyn.  ****Four Stars

Jess Green.  Bourbon Bar. August 4th – 25th. 2.45pm.  Free Entry with the PBH Free Fringe.

Jess Green is one of the Midlands’ best known poets, and has been working at her craft for years.  With this show she brings together her brilliantly structured verse, a sincere and emotional delivery and… music.  A live band and backing singers, no less.  In a bold move to enhance the audience experience and really give an underscored prominence to chosen aspects of her work, Jess’ poetry is magnificently backlit by brass, strings and percussion, all played to a suitably high standard.  Despite the show’s title, the narrative does not centre exclusively around the leader of the Opposition, indeed, some of the political references are a little contrived in order to make the work fit the theme, but nobody minds this as we can hardly have been expecting this to be a call to arms under a red flag.  No, there is plenty of variety in her material and this is entertainment with a strong, but thoughtfully delivered and often funny political bias.  Any staunch anti-Corbynites may come away from the experience somewhat crinkly-mouthed but if that were the case one would have to question what they were expecting, the clue is in the title of the show.  Anyone else, regardless of political inclination, can enjoy some superb poetry with masterful delivery in a really well-produced fusion of words, music and message.


Door-to-Door Poetry*** Three Stars

Rowan McCabe.  Bourbon Bar. August 4th – 25th. 1.30pm.  Free Entry with the PBH Free Fringe.

Rowan McCabe (pictured) is an absolute charmer and with this show has a very interesting story to tell. In case you were wondering, yes it really does involve knocking on people’s doors and offering poetry, but the journey he has been on while putting this into practice has proven to be anything but simple.  This is a really lively and amusing show, in which he has chosen to present his story as a dramatic narrative, fully scripted and delivered with a certain amount of simple staged choreography.  The resulting effect is possibly something closer to theatre than Spoken Word.  Nothing wrong with that at all, the story-telling is highly effective and fully engaging, although perhaps slightly lighter on actual poetry than one might have anticipated.  McCabe spends significant and interesting segments of the show examining some ethical and moral dilemmas with which he is presented and which he, a simple poet, is by his own admission somewhat ill-equipped to face.  These questions are not really resolved and the ending to the show offers what could be seen as an uncharacteristically downbeat conclusion to what is a highly enjoyable hour of original, sincere and personal entertainment from a brave, resourceful and hugely talented poet.


Write Out Loud reviews: Five stars – Truly exceptional. Four stars – Brilliant.  Three stars – Really good.  Two stars – Some strong points. One star – Not recommended.

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