I'm getting more involved in the performance scene again, thnaks in part to the new Sheffield based open mic night Speakeasy, which I'm hoping to get involved with promoting and organising. As mentioned in my last post, I also got involved in a benefit for Sheffield's annual Peace in the Park festival, and performed a set. Despite trepidation on my behalf from some of the other performers, poems about periods, lesbians and asylum seekers went down a storm. The bill was a mixture of spoken word and music and really did range from the sublime to the ridiculous. High points included a lovely duo called the Finch Charmers and an awesome band called Ubiq, whose percussion section was a beatboxing ex youth theatre comrade of mine. Low points included a solo singer songwriter who did a song which seemed to last for hours, made Coldplay look like Mika in terms of over-earnest self importance, and had the misfortune of a voice reminicsent of an angry John Major. Oh yes.
And then, there was mouse man.
I've seen him at a couple of gigs, this guy, and the sad thing is he's not a bad poet. His use of form is interesting and skilled. But he is lacking any concept of appropriateness (do I mean propriety?). Last time I saw him he read a poem in memorial for a drowned friend, which had a chirpy rhythm, jaunty rhyme scheme and graphic description the last moments of a drowning person. It just made me cringe. This time, he outdid himself. Again, the piece wasn't bad. It was a funny account of trying to capture and rescue a mouse from his 3 cats in the middle of the night, while said rodent eluded both him and its predators. Cats, comedy and a tale of the underdog triumphing? He had me at hello.
And then, as the act drew to a close, he looked at us and asked "...or did he?" Escape, that is. The mouse. Which he pulled from his pocket, dead, in rigor mortis. An actual dead mouse. Is this avante garde? Am I a fuddy duddy for thinking this was disturbing and unnecessary? I've been known to flash my red knickers at audiences when reading menstrual poems, but never actual bloodstained ones. Similarly, a toy or puppet mouse would have been cheesy but cute. But a dead one? Live, as it were, on stage?