The funniest piece in this collection of performed poems isn’t about the human body. It’s about a sandwich. How Hard Do You Hum When You Cum? is such a promising title; unfortunately the show itself continually disappoints.
This is largely due to the risks it doesn’t take. The description suggests a frank discussion of what human bodies do and what they do to each other. This is an important discussion: we’re woefully backward in our ability to discuss what’s happening with our mortal frames. Texts or television programs or plays that try and nurture an honesty and intelligence about the body are important. Yet, rather than demonstrate the kind of candid and unashamed attitude required to ‘fall in love with our most embarrassing features’, these poems rarely rise above a clichéd look at the most normal of sexual experiences. The kinds of things discussed are either things most of us can talk about with close friends, or they’re quite obviously something the writer doesn’t really know about. Sometimes the admissions are really quite old-fashioned; this isn’t a show containing a great deal of controversy.
There is also quite a range of poetic ability on display, from the reasonably adept to the very clunky. Poor rhymes and scansion can often be redeemed by judicious performance but here these flaws are often made even more apparent. However, there are one or two composed with some wit and flair: the sandwich piece maintains its quality for a considerable length, and a piece recorded and played over the top of a silent performer contains some effective voicing and characterisation. Glitzy gold costumes suggest an attempt to glamorise these awkward situations and afford them a new importance, an interesting idea but one that isn’t developed with any force. Despite some ability to entertain and a few likeable performances, How Hard Do You Hum Do You Cum? fails to reach above the intrigue of its title.