Review by Randall Stephens
You know that problem you get with good performance poetry, you hear that killer line and think “yeah that’s fantastic, remember that one afterwards” then you get hit with another, and another, until by the end there’s simply been too many poignant moments for your memory to retain. Ultimately though, all that matters is that you saw something special, something original, something so bloody good you’ll finally sit down and actually write something for msw.com, hypothetically.
Emily Andersen’s “Love in the Key of Britpop” is an hour long spoken word narrative show, on at the Tuxedo Cat as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival. Some of us were lucky enough to see Emily recite a few sections from it at Sweetalkers early this year, so Steve Smart and I were really keen to get down there and see the whole thing, and were well rewarded. I’m reluctant to divulge too much about what the narrative is about for fear of unfair categorisation here, but here goes: it’s girl-meets-boy, girl lives in Australia, boy lives in London, girl and boy both have a passionate love for 1990s Britpop, and (incidentally) each other.
Where recently I’ve see any number of spoken word poets struggle to keep a coherent narrative interesting through the course of even a singular poem, it’s so refreshing to experience something really well structured and well paced, and stage-directed. Emily’s story hits the ground and running and never meanders into anything overly abstract or overly referential (all the more impressive given the show’s built around the idea of two people shared love of a currently/increasingly obscure music genre), and in spite or a very regular rhythm of delivery Emily’s discourse never stops moving the story forward. There’s a deft balance of biographical character, ironic humour, tragic pathos, wild romance that carries you all the way through the drama.
I still think (or at least want to fight against) the idea that my sad-sack-slacker generation is old enough yet to be nostalgic about anything yet, but for better or worse, the 1990s are now twenty years in the rear view mirror. The heart fluttering tribulations of Love, and the human connections we seek around mutual fondness of the art and music we love though, now that’s something as timeless as great spoken word.
‘Love in the Key of Britpop’ runs as part of Melbourne Fringe Festival, September 18- 24 & 26- 28, at the Tuxedo Cat, 8.15pm, Sundays 7.15. More details and tickets available at the Melbourne Fringe Page.