Strictly not for Tories: Attila the Stockbroker on life, Prince Harry, radical politics… and his mum
Attila the Stockbroker: Arguments Yard. Venue 444, Silk, Edinburgh Fringe Festival
It’s back to the 1980s with a despised female Tory prime minister, recessions, political turmoil and a Labour party in retreat. Or so it seems in the world of poet, songster and author Attila the Stockbroker. For it feels like his time has come again with a certain feeling of déjà vu in the world of politics – the medium that has inspired so much of his work since the early 1980s.
Performing to a packed room in a nightclub near Edinburgh Castle during this summer’s Fringe Festival Attila still has all the fire and passion about the world’s injustices that propelled him to fame all those years ago. His show was a sort of retrospective as he reflected on his life through his autobiography Arguments Yard published last year. With a mix of poetry, anecdotes, readings and opinions, as well as music played on his mandola for his songs, the poet is a charismatic performer – albeit not one for the faint hearted or those of a Conservative disposition. As a poet he makes his stance quite clear for on his shirt is the Adrian Mitchell quote: “Most people ignore poetry because most poetry ignores most people.”
Real name John Baine, Attila the Stockbroker gave the audience (of who many were paid up fans) what they wanted to hear. Namely his view of the world rather than the one seen through the eyes of the Daily Mail. Whether it was Prince Harry in the nude or workers fooled into voting against their own interests by a Tory press, Attila takes no prisoners as he tells it like it is with the passion of a man thirty years younger. In a world of conformity it is good to hear an alternative viewpoint put so eloquently and convincingly.
The most touching moment of the Spoken Word gig was his tribute to his mother who had battled Alzheimer’s Disease. The Long Goodbye was a poignant elegy from a son to a mother recalling their long relationship, her many lives and influence on him, and written with a bitter sweet humour to the appreciative audience.
The show has ended but the poet is on tour nationally.
Perth, getting stabbed, and earning 50p: a poetic take on the life of a comic with Alexis Dubus at the Edinburgh Fringe
Alexis Dubus Verses The World. Venue 68, Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh Fringe Festival
With a globe, a hat and a microphone, Alexis Dubus sings, makes faces, reads poems and tells stories with a confidence and an ease that puts him in the top rank of eccentric comedic entertainers.
We hear about the his meeting with a stranger in Perth who simply asked if his prawn roll in a take-away was weird; there’s a conversation with a candid racist about a rock; and one on how getting stabbed guarantees that you’ll get married. His show Alexis Dubus Verses the World takes his life and its minor incidents and turns them into bursts of performance poetry, comic songs and neatly crafted anecdotes – all dispatched with an easy charm and a cheeky grin. His running gags help to connect the show’s contents (which he explains doesn’t have a particular theme) but skilfully cements 60 minutes of ingredients into a satisfying comedic pudding.
Appearing in the Edinburgh Fringe’s much smaller section of Spoken Word rather than the overblown Comedy zone meant that spotting his free gig in the programme was much easier than looking through the countless list of comedy shows. He is known as a stand-up, which gives his poetry and songs a theme all of their own. And he was able to describe the life of a comic in verse with his poem To Be a Comic:
An eleven hour round trip to Torquay,
After petrol, pies and speeding fines you are left with fifty pee,
After ten minutes of stage time where they stare at you moronic,
And you re-edit your dream of what it’s like to be a comic.
The show continues until August 28, 2016. Free but donations welcome.
More details at http://www.alexisdubus.com
Blah, Blah, Blah. Poetry at the Bristol Old Vic.
Compered by the refreshingly friendly Anna Freeman in the Bristol Old Vic’s basement November’s cabaret night of the spoken word featured poets Malika Booker, Niall O’Sullivan, and Talia Randall.
Part poetry, part performance, the trio read or recited their work in a gently entertaining style that was inclusive, mildly amusing and at times quite touching. Several poems were met with muted applause due to their reflective nature rather than not ringing true. Anna’s opening poem about becoming her friend’s birthing companion was funny, witty and contained acutely accurate observations about a new baby that smells of ham.
Talia’s first poem Salt charting her look-back-in-embarrassment experience of revisiting her student haunts held the audience’s imagination with its universal theme of cringing at the pretentions of our youth.
Niall O’Sullivan was an altogether different type of poet. He spoke in scraps of prose as though mentally revisiting a note book of ideas still in a state of composition. A strong performer O’Sullivan also conveyed his political stance on the monarchy, UKIP and racists, before admitting through verse he’d shaken hands with the Queen.
To complete the evening a denim and leather clad Malika Booker read from her book about her mother’s irritating shopping habits and a poem that chimed with many about her mum’s sayings. But her lilting sing-song voice describing her Aunt’s last hours repeatedly rolling her fingers over her rosary as she prepared for the end were haunting with their images of hospitals, soiled sheets and a once full-of-life woman slowly slipping away.