Returning to action in 2015 with a stellar, eight-strong line-up of guest performers, Blahblahblah’s new-year revival was met with a capacity crowd packed wall-to-wall in Bristol Old Vic’s basement space.
Nestled together tightly, those amassed sipped drinks and chatted animatedly in anticipation of what promised to be a great - if somewhat whistle-stop - introduction to a wealth of celebrated entertainers.
Dividing the headliners into three teams - namely ‘Team Lust’, ‘Team Love’ and ‘Team Loss’ - the semi-competitive ‘Valentines poetry slam’ pretext of the evening was engineered to encourage the discovery of the most powerful, post-Valentines poetic theme, but more importantly to provide an entertaining gimmick upon which an action-packed evening could excitably unfold. The performers themselves were nestled almost as tightly as the crowd, lined upon a long bench under the spotlights, perched and waiting for their call-to-arms as expectant competitors of the three word-wielding tag-teams.
Introduced entertainingly by Anna Freeman, the ‘battle’ commenced. Though without the anticipated appearances of Lucy English and Buddy Carson, the line-up still proved as talent-packed as it was brilliantly varied.
Whether representing their prescribed Valentine themes diligently or spinning only a tenuous association from which they’d entertain and enthral on a tangent of their own, the audience seemed unanimously gripped by the performances of host Anna and her guests. Wilf Merttens, Jonny Fluffypunk, Harry Baker, Vanessa Kisule, Sally Jenkinson, Laurie Bolger, Molly Case and Ben Mellor each took their turn to shine, leading the evening down dramatically different avenues of content and delivery. Very much a roller-coaster of experiences, the performances would switch from subtlety and nuance to laugh-out-loud comedy with a compelling variety, the faces of the audience responding with beaming grins, furrowed brows and misty-eyed resonance accordingly.
With the 'Loss' theme haphazardly championed the winner and it’s poetic proponents awarded a novelty prize for good measure, the evening concluded to the sound of appreciative cheers and rounds of applause. Having entertained those present with a skilled group of performers that created a commendably broad spectrum of experiences for the £7 entry fee, Blahblahblah has leapt excitably into it’s 2015 programming to the enjoyment of a packed crowd.
With a wealth of both established names and promising fresh talent scheduled for forthcoming events, this new-year momentum appears as if it’ll continue to roll comfortably onwards, reinforcing Blahblahblah’s status as the jewel in the crown for spoken-word in the South West.
Photography: George Dallimore