Grave Invaders

Thirty seconds into a show that hasn’t started yet, one performer is rapping an improvised piece about how the show hasn’t started yet. And the audience is endeared immediately. Based in the cosy crypts of Banshee Labyrinth, Grave Invaders is a cheap and cheerful (well, free and cheerful) series of impressive spoken word pieces, broken up by the artists as they warmly natter to the audience about themselves.

They succeed in being both engaging and cheerfully entertaining

The show has a charming story behind its creation. Three spoken word poets meet on the open mic circuit and one day decide to fill a gap in their schedules by visiting a ton of poets’ graves. They spent three weeks moving around the UK, starting in Bristol and zigzagging up to Edinburgh, managing to rely on locals/other poets responding to requests for sofas on Twitter. One of this trio is former schoolteacher Mark Grist, who you may have seen in a Blizzard rap-battle that deservedly went viral online. He fondly describes the three week search as a kind of “midlife crisis crossed with Pokemon”. And the succession of pieces inspired by their trip, whether teaching you why you shouldn’t murder bad poets, or how a maths teacher talks trash to a space unicorn, is wonderfully playful both in manner and alarmingly quick-witted wordplay. All three poets play off each other and the audience with ease and creativity.

Their teaching backgrounds presumably serve them well in maintaining their playfulness and lack of pretension, and they succeed in being both engaging and cheerfully entertaining. Tim Clare’s pieces are a real highlight, offering a fantastic satire about the modern gentrification of his bigoted rural hometown, and a genius use of literary innuendo (“get your Dick-in-son”) in a piece based around a heavily-exhaled refrain of “more sex please, we’re poets...” (His solo show, Be Kind To Yourself, is one I’m certainly going to).

Appealing for anyone and everyone with a heart or able-hearing. It doesn’t pack enough of a punch to call a must-see; but as a free show, you won’t find much better.

Reviews by Henry St Leger

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

In 2013, battle-rapping teacher and YouTube sensation Mark Grist, MC Mixy and stand-up poet Tim Clare set off on a 2,500 mile pilgrimage round the graves of Britain's best-loved, deadest poets. This is the story of their adventure. 'Brings the house down' (Guardian). 'Wide-eyed, brilliant' (Independent). What does it mean to give your life to poetry? What does it take to become a legend? And most importantly: which poet has the sickest grave?