The title of Hegley’s show refers to his latest book, Peace, Love and Potatoes, a perfect example of the juxtaposition between the common and the conceptual found throughout his quirky, poetic creations. An impeccably gifted performer and a genuinely warm person to be around, it was a treat to see the man himself bring some of his favourite pieces to life.
The set feels like a school headmaster organising a crowd of well-behaved and well-loved pupils
There is an understated charm in the humility with which Hegley approaches his work, calmly referring to each piece as a “little bit of fun”, and little by little we are drawn into a world that begins in the straightforward and spirals into the sublime. Pleasingly awkward rhymes and bizarrely endearing twists play with expectations and sensibilities, covering anything and everything from his childhood bungalow in Luton to the differences between a dog and a deckchair (one of my personal favourites), each coloured with the thoughts and feelings that inspired Hegley in their inception.
Some poems are sung, some are spoken and some have surprisingly complex hand movements to accompany them. Hegley’s work is popular in schools across the UK, and this experience shows. At times the set feels like a school headmaster organising a crowd of well-behaved and well-loved pupils. Audience interaction is a crucial part of the performance, with enjoyable harmonies coaxed out of the room to varying degrees of success. It’s not a pantomime, nor is it patronising. With a straight-faced earnestness, Hegley is utterly sincere in his conviction to lead the audience through rousing interpretive dance, spontaneous French translation and more.
Who ever said that poetry couldn’t be fun? This melting-pot of styles and subjects is a wonderfully silly, quietly brilliant production. Whether you’re a lifelong fan or a complete novice, there’s something here for everyone to enjoy.