Liz Lochhead: Apple Says Aaah - and Other Poems, Pommes and People

Liz Lochhead is the Scots Makar (the Scottish equivalent of the Poet Laureate) and she begins her performance with a poem from the perspective of an apple (entitled 'The Apple’s Song') by her predecessor and late contemporary Edwin Morgan. This sets the tone for a thoroughly enjoyable hour in the company of a lady who fully understands the power of words and how they can be read on the page and performed on the stage.

Liz Lochhead takes influence from performers past as well as her contemporaries throughout the duration of 'Apple Says Aaah - and other Poems, Pommes and People', creating a feeling of reminiscence throughout. As well as paying tribute to Morgan, Lochhead pays tribute to the recently deceased Scottish musician and theatre maker Micheal Marra. Again we see the poet’s respect for one of her contemporaries through touching words that allow the mind's eye to visualise the imagery in the language.

As well as being a successful and respected poet, Liz Lochhead also has a background in the visual arts and playwriting. This visual background is carried through in her words. Poems that cover themes including landscapes, family, womanhood and a love of music and art are spread out through the duration of the hour. Every poem paints a visual picture as the words easily fall from her lips. This in turn creates a unique personal connection with the audience as the lyricism in the words take an empathetic tone, allowing us to interpret the meaning in our own individual way. This is the power behind her poetry.

Lochhead employs persona poetry with technical skill using the character of Mrs Reilly. However, the character of Mrs Reilly feels too similar to Liz Lochhead herself. This may have been the performers intention, however variety may have made this character more memorable and stand out in relation to other poems and anecdotes in the performance.

Lochhead is such a down to earth yet assured stage presence it is hard to find fault in her delivery and words. However the performance does rely rather heavily on nostalgia: Far too many of the themes and anecdotes relate to the past and childhood. This is emphasised with a reading of 'To a Mouse' by Robert Burns, a poem that we discover Lochhead learned by heart at school. We are however brought into the present as Lochhead delivers her amusing and touching response, 'From a Mouse'. Such meanderings, alongside poems on such themes as a love of vinyl, mark Liz Lochhead as a poet who relies on the past and is talented and engaging enough to make it feel fresh and enjoyable today.

Reviews by Steven Fraser

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★★★
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Performances

The Blurb

Scotland’s National Poet follows last year’s intimate wee one-woman showcase of poems, rhymes, songs-without-tunes and monologues with this brand-new selection of things recent, things retrospective. Sharp, comic, bittersweet.