Hendrick’s Carnival of Knowledge opened its gin-spattered doors to the exceptional Dr David Bramwell and his array of pranksters and mischief-makers. The sumptuous venue is worth a visit in its own right; Angel House is a veritable cornucopia of fin de siècle taxidermy, standard lamps and curiosities all lovingly arranged to provide the peculiarly evocative atmosphere of a brothel-cum-teahouse.
I was greeted with a refreshing cocktail and ushered into a glorious lounge strewn with mismatched furniture and artistically tarnished mirrors. From this delightful setting emerged the inimitable David Bramwell, who introduced the eager audience to a string of imps, jokers and unlikely artists and their tales of deception and commotion.
Bramwell needs no introduction to those who know any of the many branches of his ‘One Man Cottage Industry.’ He is the founder and impeccable host of Brighton’s Catalyst Club, a man of words and notes as singer-songwriter in the band Oddfellows Casino, a writer who delights home, radio, TEDx and festival audiences alike with his wit and irrepressible curiosity. He is also, luckily for us, a wonderful storyteller and quite the artful prankster.
Bramwell takes us on a tour, then, of the fascinating history of tricksters in a perfect blend of comedy, history and lecture. We are introduced to many unforgettable characters: the man who sold the Eiffel Tower for scrap, the man who sent himself through the mail, Abrie Krueger, the South African who won the World’s Biggest Liar award for claiming to be King of the Wasdale Valley. Bramwell also explored the tales of coyote trickster and the curious rabbit, tracing their archetypal roots from mythology to Brer Rabbit and the eternal struggle between Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner. The talk surprises at every turn and is peppered with unlikely anecdotes and snippets of historical foolings.
David Bramwell is an excellent wordsmith and orator, he enthrals the audience and delivers with such verve and flawless style. I urge you to go and see him, read him, listen to him in his many guises – and watch out for the rabbit!