The spoken word scene in Edinburgh has grown over the years, with poetry slams, open mics and cabaret events happening every week. The Hidden Door Festival has reflected this interest by programming a wide range of spoken word performances. On Day 2 of Hidden Door Freak Circus and Loud Poets both present their unique brand of performance poetry at the Speakeasy room within the transformed Old Leith Theatre.
Freak Circus is a spoken word event in which an array of performers take on comedic personas to present their performance poetry. The aesthetic is that of a Victorian Freak Show. Towards the back of the stage is a large screen where a variety of projected illustrations, photographs and artwork add to the visual style of the event and set the tone for the hour.
The first spoken word artist goes by the name of Cider Man. He slurs his way through a rendition of The Spiderman television series theme tune and changes the lyrics to tell a drunken tale. This act feels very predictable and thankfully he makes way for the other performers to raise the game and also raise a few laughs. The other acts include The Stupendous Nan Kid, The Tantalising Sinew Sisters, The Phenomenal Levitator, The Astounding Tattooed Lady and The Gravity Defying Bird Girl. Every one is different and they all aim for the more comedic side of spoken word. The result is entertaining and makes Freak Circus a great event if you are unfamiliar with spoken word and want an introduction to the medium. The hour is fun, visually appealing, enjoyable and appeared to win over the majority of the audience.
After Freak Circus have left the stage the audience has an hour long break to take in the music and art that is also available at Hidden Door. By the time Loud Poets take the stage the Speakeasy room is full and it is standing room only in the venue. Loud Poets have gone from strength to strength over the years with their successful Edinburgh Fringe shows and their regular performance nights in Glasgow and Edinburgh. The group of poets consist of Kevin McLean, Doug Garry, Catherine Wilson and Katie Ailes. The four performers deliver solo pieces and collaborative poems with confidence and panache. The poets are joined by a violinist and guitarist who conjure up a variety of sounds to accompany the poetry and this works most effectively during the more pensive and thoughtful poems. The topics of their poetry include childhood, Dungeons and Dragons and a love of poetry itself. A definitive highlight is a dance/film poem piece from Katie Ailes. She performs an eloquent dance in front of a projected film of herself reading a poem. The result is a mesmerising love letter to her dance teacher. This proves that even though they are “loud” poets, the poetry on show can be attention grabbing and personal, even with the volume turned down.