Anthropoetry

Anthropoetry was, in a line, a spoken word event with a live musical backdrop that used the body as its modus operandi. Starting with the head and moving down to the loins, the liquid-tongued Ben Mellor – the Slam Champion, I have since learned, of a BBC Radio 4 competition – delivered a series of thematically relevant poems that stretched up to the heights of international politics and down to the depths of our basest animalism.

The range of moods and tones helped to keep the production fresh, and reflected the multitude of talents at this duo’s disposal.

Mellor was supported by his mute, musical companion Dan Steele, a Moby-like figure who remained silent throughout the performance but for the melodies of his guitar-synth-laptop sound corner. Together, they produced intensely atmospheric song-poems that married their two mediums admirably.

The show was – flatteringly, I know – akin to Joyce’s Ulysses, each section relating to a different part of the body and shifting between the intellectual and corporeal poles of what my student days have taught me to describe as ‘the human condition’. The range of moods and tones helped to keep the production fresh, and reflected the multitude of talents at this duo’s disposal.

Only occasionally did I feel that Mellor treaded the waters of sanctimony; more often I felt mesmerised by his observations and perceptiveness of everyday life, challenged to question my own narcissism in an age where it seems endemic. Sometimes I cannot stand the prophetism of spoken word poetry, the sense of being lectured – however lyrically – by the self-righteous, but when you feel as provoked as I did, as moved to self-doubt, you know that the artist has touched on something worth talking about.

Steele fluffed up a couple of notes – including, most unfortunately, the last – but it mattered little in an environment where the audience and artists themselves existed in a state of near-perfect harmony. His performance was otherwise virtuosic, offering a wonderfully intricate and expressive counterpart to the poetry that took centre stage. It was, all in all, a terrific production, and I urge you all to see it.

Reviews by Joshua Feldman

Marlborough Theatre

The Room in the Elephant

★★★★
The Warren: Theatre Box

Both Worlds

★★★★
The Warren: Main House

Animal Farm

★★★
The Warren: Theatre Box

Brainchild

★★★
The Warren: Theatre Box

Everything That's Wrong with the Universe

★★★★
The Dukebox Theatre

All Change

★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

How do we express our spleen? Whose business do we stick our noses into? When did we start wearing our hearts on our sleeves, and why are we up to our elbows in heels and bums? BBC R4 Slam Champion Ben Mellor and multi-instrumentalist Dan Steele take you on a stand-up poetry and music fuelled tour around the body. A mix of free-verse poetry, rap, beatbox and a healthy dose of satirical humour, underscored live by guitar, keys, drumpads and looping technology.