Moraletry - PBH's Free Fringe

Ethics and morality aren’t typically seen as trendy when it comes to comedy, poetry and performance; they are often seen as unfun and old-hat. Yet, it could be argued that they are ever the central theme when it comes to any kind of show; each word carries some moral burden because it claims something, and said or understood incorrectly, they can have dangerous effects.Ok, I may be overthinking this, but when presented with the idea of a show involving poetry, comedy and a look at contemporary morality I was excited: if this worked, it could be something really special. Unfortunately, whilst Moraletry (poetry + morality - yes it is a bit clumsy) is not a complete failure, it doesn’t have a great deal to say, and what it does say it doesn’t say particularly well.

Gary from Leeds and Richard Purnell are associated with the slam poetry scene - one that relies on the ways in which performance can enhance the written word. Whilst there are moments of accomplished poetic composition, particularly from Purnell, most of the time the performance aspect fails to hide some basic messy scansion and ill-conceived humour.

I feel as if Gary and Richard probably do have more interesting things to say than they let on. Having the idea to make a show about morality at all is one that deserves the doffing of a reviewer’s hat, but Moraletry is also poorly executed; lines need to be learned more thoroughly, props need to be organised well in advance, and slicker transitions between sections would all go some way towards improving the offering of this show’s contents.

Moraletry suggests that it will attempt to give ‘answers to big moral questions’. A poem about the Israel/Palestine conflict contains some sophistication, and there other moments that might be called thought-provoking but these serve only to highlight an uneasy juxtaposition between the comic and the serious that further undermines the workings of this troubled show. Gary from Leeds and Richard Purnell had and may still have a promising idea, but it will take a lot more work before it can come to fruition.

Reviews by James Macnamara


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The Blurb

Like a cross between John Cleese, John Betjeman and Mother Teresa, Gary From Leeds and Richard Purnell fuse comedy and poetry while tirelessly pursuing the moral high ground. ‘Thoroughly entertaining’ ( **** (

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