Ross McCleary is a poet and performer with a problem when it comes to finding a job. He has a CV, a linkedin profile and an ability with words, but bringing all these things together seems to be an arduous task. Employ Me, You Cowards is a spoken word storytelling show that combines poetry, comedy and a PowerPoint presentation to showcase the anxieties of finding work when all you want to do is write poetry.
The show is delivered with a nervous energy. It is not obvious if this is down to the nerves of the poet, or if he is just expressing this anxiety to showcase the themes of the show. Giving McCleary the benefit of the doubt seems to be the only way to enjoy Employ Me, You Cowards as this tension and uneasiness is apparent throughout the duration of the show. We begin with McCleary showing the audience his linkedin profile. This is a social media app that is designed to help people network and find work. McCleary’s profile is filled with nonsensical statements, in-jokes and information that an employer would not be interested in (he has entered his located as the Ferrero Rocher extended universe). Why he has done this is not really explained. McCleary seems to be interested in self sabotage and this theme gives the show a comedic edge and a bizarre and unpredictable nature. To the back of the performance space (the very open and bright Mezzanine level of the Scottish Poetry Library) is a screen. Here we see statements and images that add to this strangeness and giving the show a visual edge.
Although the performance is enjoyable at times, it still feels very much like a work in progress or first draft. The nervous delivery works well, but the poet does stumble on his words frequently and this takes the audience out of the show. Unemployment itself is an important subject. Maybe if Ross McCleary delved further into this aspect of Employ Me, You Cowards then the show would have more power and personality. To accompany the performance the poet has released a poetry pamphlet called Endorse Me, You Cowards on Stewed Rhubarb press.