'Word of Mouth' is a literary performance partnership between Bristol Old Vic, City Chameleon and Tangent Books, set up with the view to promote storytelling through the creative channels of prose, poetry and song writing by inviting local and national talent to perform at a select few venues in the city of Bristol.
I first heard about Word of Mouth last year when a friend recommended a few of their 'spoken word' evenings, which take place in the dark recesses of the lyrical dungeon that is Bristol Old Vic’s basement theatre. Finally getting myself down to an event that they put on at the end of September, that particular foray into the world of performance poetry saw me witness the dazzling and incredibly talented Dizraeli, who whipped the small audience into an anarchic frenzy before leading them in a charge up to the lobby bar where he ended the gig atop a table, blasting out a tumultuous rendition of his new single, 'BOMB TESCO'. Needless to say, I’ve started to realise that you should always expect the unexpected when approaching these sorts of nights as anything is usually possible. It was, therefore, with great relish that I found myself on Monday evening once again precariously perched upon a stool in the small cellar venue, eager to tuck into the latest offering from this creative Bristol collective.
Once the lights had dimmed in the intimate basement, the audience hushed and on slouched the wonderfully shambolic but lyrically stimulating Byron Vincent who holds the position of resident poet for all the Word of Mouth events. Falling into his usual chaotic-but-eloquent stage presence with consummate ease, the night got under way with the 'sink estate dandy' treating us all to a reading of a short story he had recently penned that stayed true to his irreverent and highly surreal form of tainted humour. Introducing us all to his axe-wielding protagonist Lizzie Borden, our seemingly inebriated host proceeded to run through a series of her bizarre encounters with Wilma Flintstone, one lecherous Crab and a 'totes amazeballs' Wonder Woman who all made an appearance throughout the metaphorical tale to the great amusement of the captivated, if slightly confused, audience. Deftly switching between different character's voices with perfect clarity his performance offered up spadefuls of stimulating imagery and a hefty dose of deserved laughs from the benches.
With the audience suitably warmed up, Byron relinquished the stage to the next act, ordering us to “whoop like Americans” for Mr. John Osborne, whose reputation as an incredibly gifted talent precedes him having garnered a slew of positive reviews from the National newspapers for his publications 'Radiohead' and 'The Newsagent's Window'.
Flicking through his tiny book of poems, 'The New Blur Album',Osborne delighted the audience with his own unique brand of hypothetical, observational poetry where he raised such dilemmas as what it would be like to grow up sharing the same name as the ‘King of Pop’ Michael Jackson; the trials and tribulations of being a substitute goalkeeper for the World Cup England squad and the devastating consequences that would arise should your wife ever have an affair with the continuity announcer from BBC One. In my eyes, the purpose of poetry should be to eloquently portray the way we look at the world and I found that all of Osborne's observations, although particularly odd in their origins, were in fact marvellously grounded in the reality of life; I thoroughly enjoyed gazing, if just for a moment, into the unique mind of this humble poet. His gentle and curiously charming selection of poems invited many laughs from the audience and were delivered in such a way as to build the tempo up perfectly for the headline act of the evening, who lurked in the shadows to the side of the stage.
If John Osborne had appeared almost shy and reserved while reading tentatively from his small poetry book, there was no hiding from the flamboyantly bourgeoisie appearance and staggering confidence of the man that sprang onto the stage next. Dressed to impress with hair swept back in an aristocratic flair, the night made way for its headline act Luke Wright, who apparently hails from the 'decent' part of Essex. With his exuberant manner and expressive delivery of content, the next thirty-five minutes flew by as we raced around Luke's favourite UK motorway service stations and joined him as he evaded the 'Jean Claude Gendarmes' while on holiday in France. Possibly my favourite poem of the evening came in the form of 'Barry Vs The Blob', an exercise in excessive alliteration that was truly impressive and hilarious in equal measure.
Quintessentially English and strikingly powerful in both content and delivery, Luke Wright is a big personality and it's clear to see why he’s risen to such great prominence in his field. Needless to say a roar of appreciative applause filled the small basement for him when he left the stage, closing yet another 'Nasty Little Night'.
8 / 10