Lochhead’s poetry has an immediacy and humour that makes it ideal to be read out loud. Add to this Lochhead’s own liveliness and energy, and you have the ingredients of a performance that contains something to keep everyone satisfied.
Liz Lochhead: Making Nothing Happen is not just a reading of a string of poems; Lochhead adds continuity to the material by explaining the circumstances under which they were written. These are sometimes autobiographical but not always, ensuring that, although the performance is personal, it never becomes self-indulgent. The poems Lochhead has selected span from the beginning of her career to most recently written ones; she also reads a monologue from her play Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off. This gives the audience a very general idea of how her writing has changed with time to address different concerns, as well as how it has branched out to different genres.
Both the poems and Lochhead’s stories drew laughter from the audience that seemed to be very engaged in the performance. Although some of the Scots was lost on me, and some of the poetry discussing other times – such as the 60s - undoubtedly had a greater impact on audience members that have experienced what was being described, I was always entertained by the material. I think it would, however, be fair to say that the performance was enjoyed more by the mature audience members, who formed the majority.
In a festival that can be extremely chaotic, Liz Lochhead does make something happen by making her audience enjoy her performance in a relaxed and calming kind of way.