Bil Fulton and Cynthia Stephens, or Bil&Cyn as they like to be called, represent two different sides of the same coin. While they are both artists, Bil is a musician, guitarist and singer/songwriter, and Cyn is a poet, wordsmith and occasional lyricist. But instead of combining talents and presenting a showcase of songs written together, they try to isolate these abilities and end up putting on a strange display of songs and poems that don’t seem to have much of a link whatsoever.
Both individuals have talent in their relative fields: Bil is a skilled guitarist, despite mistakes being scattered throughout the set and has an average singing voice that has aged well, although does tend to go flat when pushing the top of his range. Cyn meanwhile clearly has a way with words and constructs her verses with precision and has a superb reading voice that you can imagine hearing on an audio book. The only problem is that the two don’t really work as a joint enterprise – whenever Bil played a song, Cyn stood there rather awkwardly, paper in hand, as if she was about to burst into song. Similarly, as Cyn read from a thin sheet of paper, Bil seemed more focused on preparing for his next song.
Their on stage banter was pretty poor as well. Bil did his best to link poem to song and song to poem, but the links were so tenuous it was almost as if they were grasping at vague themes to try and convince the audience that the two mediums complemented each other. Towards the end of the set, Bil did play a song that had been written by the pair of them, and it was one of the highlights of the night as Cyn’s linguistic flair was finally put to a melody, but otherwise Cyn’s poetry, while intricately and delicately written, was often about mundane topics that did little to capture the imagination.
In the end, the audience is left feeling relaxed but a little bored and confused. The pair must be credited for the hard work they put into staging this show, and are both genuinely lovely people, but unless you have a real penchant for poetry with musical interludes, this show isn’t going to set your evening alight.