Roll up, roll up!
The Freak Circus is in town…
The Poetry Circus presents Freak Circus
The Bongo Club, Edinburgh
Friday 06 November 2015
The Amazing Freak Circus Showcase promised a night of spoken word poetry unlike any other. An astounding feat of acrobatic acronyms, juggling juxtapositions and spectacular similes brought to you by The Poetry Circus team. The ringmasters, Max Scratchmann and Emily Elver, hosted the night to celebrate the first ever Freak Circus book-a-zine, a new crowdfunded literary venture.
I have to admit, I didn’t really know what to expect but couldn’t resist the allure of the freak show. I took my seat in The Bongo Club before the stage, two solitary microphones at either side. The backdrop presented beautifully illustrated slides to coincide with the circus theme, featuring each freak’s name when it was their time to perform.
The variety of performances was undoubtedly brilliant. From short to long, flash to free verse, humorous to hard-hitting, there was no subject off-limits. The circus jumped from the relatable to the ridiculous like a trapeze artist, touching Tinder to the tooth fairy, mental illness to rape culture. The audience were kept on their toes, breath held, unsure of what was next.
As a poetry novice, the night was an unapologetic crash course in spoken word. While some acts left me bemused, others made my sides sore with laughter. The only act I had encountered before was ‘The Incredible’ Jenny Lindsay, one half of poetry sensation Rally and Broad. A regular at The Bongo Club, she effortlessly delivered one of the longest poems of the evening, reminiscing about a boy from her schooldays and his defiance in the face of a daisy chain. The power of Lindsay’s voice is undeniable, as she captures your attention with vivid interpretation.
‘The Awe-Inspiring’ Agnes Török passionately tackled our nation’s inability to speak about consent. Her delivery demanded to be felt, as she pounded her chest to the beat of her heart. Unlike a circus that warns you not to try this at home, Török went on to encourage everyone to embrace poetry and write it themselves. ‘The Inimitable’ Alec Beattie reduced me to tears of laughter with his double entendre tale on mental health. Reciting the story of Le Freak, who had a roof leak, his use of comedy provided a stark contrast against the bleak subject matter. The suggestion that we don’t treat mental illness as seriously as we should demonstrated the power that poetry can have.
One of the most gut-wrenching poems of the night came from ‘The Spectacular’ Sindigo. Written on the back of a hospital menu during her time as an inpatient, it tackled our nation’s view on drug addicts. She challenged the lack of empathy given to ‘junkies’, who are deemed not well enough for society but not ill enough to occupy a hospital bed. The emotionally charged words touched the room, evident when the silence was met with sobs from one audience member.
The night ended on a side-splitting high with ‘The Fantastic’ Ross McCleary and Andrew Blair. Their duel pop culture performance on Justin Bieber and Robert Pattinson was hilarious, as they synchronised outrageous statements about the two. Did you know Robert Pattinson has eight dogs all named Robert Pattinson because he loves shouting his own name? Now you do. They went on to ask one of life’s fundamental questions, ‘Poet or Edinburgh?’, with contagiously energetic style.
The Amazing Freak Circus Showcase celebrated the death-defying bravery of spoken word poetry. I was left awestruck, wanting to see more. As the circus packed up, I vowed to leave the scepticism behind and see most of the freaks again.
Pictures courtesy of Freak Circus Facebook