Sara Hirsch, former UK Slam Champion, is a talented wordsmith, and in her spoken word show How Was It For You? she turns her skills to an autobiographical tale about the sad end of first love, and those uncertain first steps into a new relationship. Last year, at around this time, she met “X”, an actor in Edinburgh, and began a romance. But “X” is not to be confused with the “ex”, referred to as “T”, a boyfriend of five years, who remains ever-present in her mind.
In this confessional, Hirsch reveals a refreshing innocence and lack of cynicism to romance. It’s heartfelt and truthful as she puts words to the emotional and sexual conflicts going on inside. Her style here is a very loose poetry, bordering on prose. She rhymes to lend weight to particular passages, and the rhythm rolls along freely, sometimes dropping out entirely to allow chatty asides. There’s something very real and raw and authentic about what she’s doing.
It is though, in places, too personal and too specific to truly connect with a wider audience. Just as it seems she’s touching on something universal about the loss of first love, we’re brought back to the detail. The scenario is very “Edinburgh”, which plays well here, and people love the baring of a soul, but one senses she might still be too close to her subject to fully do it justice. A little more distance might sharpen her insight and the conclusion she draws.
There’s a wonderful metaphorical passage where she finds her watch stopped on the train journey back from Edinburgh. She has love to look forward to, love to look back on and a confluence of past, present and future memories flowing through her mind. It’s sections like this that really prick the memories of our own past relationships, and take us away from merely analysing her own situation.
Not that it diminishes her talent, nor the guts she has to tell her story. There are some lovely turns of phrases here; all those late night gigs which caused turmoil with her ex have produced a fine poet.