The Long and the Short of It – Richard Purnell and Gary from Leeds

– reviewed by Anna Hobson –

Anna Hobson kindly reviews one of the Spoken Word shows from the Edinburgh Fringe that James Webster and his winsome sidekick Dana Bubulj didn’t manage to catch.

There was a good crowd in the slope-ceilinged, chilled yet moist underbelly of the Banshee Labyrinth that afternoon (no mean feat when the weather outside was delectable). Chairs scraped on the flag stones, and the wet air clung to our skin as The Long and the Short of It prepared to deliver a poetry consultation to a willing and eager audience.

The pair’s asymmetrical dynamic set the scene at first glance, and as soon as the accents were thrown in this became a comedy duo to anticipate with relish. They introduced each other (affectionately, melodramatically) and began with a couple of poems, delivered with a tragi-pathetic whinge, with their subtle acting skills highlighting the humour in the poetry.

The entire performance was riddled with dichotomy: their significant height difference, the North/South divide, the subject matter and length of poems; and yet they worked seamlessly brilliantly together.

We were taken on a linguistic journey, a lyrical adventure; subject matters such as allergies, maladies, justice, death and public transport slapped us in the face immediately, and we were taught that these themes underpin all decent poetry. Richard Purnell began with a theatrical lament about celebrities, and hinted at the hypocrisy of grieving for these false idols. This was swiftly followed by a poetic burst from Gary from Leeds, making me laugh out loud with Freud’s Knock Knock joke. This was one example of the tumultuous ricochet between solemnity and brevity from our Consultants, who consistently delivered a satisfying mix with their comedic rapport.

There was a lightness of touch and a deft dexterity woven into a sharp script that sustained the verbal tour upon which we had embarked. I did appreciate the social and political commentary that rumbled beneath; it added a bit of meaty flesh to the proceedings.

I felt that although the tongue-in-cheek seminar structure of the show could have been emphasised more, the experience was thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable. Happiness Graphs, Poetic Sweet Spots and creative audience participation were sure-fire ways of ensuring I left with a smile on my face.