Other Voices promised much — ‘comedy, politics, naughty lyrics, free sweets… And a veritable smorgasbord of poetry antics’, but the most significant terminology on its title-board was the now seldom-used word muliebrity meaning ‘womanly qualities’ or ‘womanliness’. It’s fair to say that the ‘other’ in Other Voices is largely female.
Which is fine more than fine, actually; the audience can enjoy both the delicate, yet inner steel found in MC Fay Roberts’s poetry and the work of Lucy Ayrton as well as the ribaldry of Ruth E Dixon, who delighted the audience with her heartfelt song, ‘Camping and Vaginas Do Not Mix’.
Not that the show was an entirely male-free zone. Roberts was grateful for Richard Herring mentioning the show on his Festival podcast, and she welcomed two men up during the show’s Open Mic section: Ant Smith almost raised the concrete rafters of the venue with his song about why he got married — its chorus: ‘Happy to be your plaything, happy to be your toy’ gives a good sense of its tone — while Tony Higson perplexed and amused the audience in equal measure with his increasingly weird analogies to describe love.
But then it was back to the women with the self-described as a ‘big, ballsy loud feminist’ Hannah Eiseman-Reynard and her tales of growing up in north London with a double-barrel name and a moving take on the usage of the word ‘love’ in a relationship — ‘Test its weight, heavy as marble, fragile as an egg-shell’.
The ‘evanescent’ Sarah Thomasin then shifted the focus onto the merits of eating Vegans -yes, eating people- getting a “lesbian” haircut, and arguing forthrightly about the continued validity of poetic forms.
The final performer was the ‘intractable’ Chroma Quint — yes, even MC Roberts admitted they were attracting the more unusually named performers this time round. The self-described space geek read from her self-published collection of poems written in the form of letters, between planets like Pluto, explaining its “demotion” from full planetary status and between the International Space Station and NASA following the decision to end the Space Shuttle Programme.
Other Voices promised a ‘veritable smorgasbord of poetry antics’ it’s fair to say, its performers delivered exactly that, with wit, humour and style.