Rhymes with Orange

Every successful show needs a Unique Selling Point – or, put simply, a gimmick. Regular London-based event Rhymes with Orange – “a monthly spoken word night ... a place for stuck creatives and seasoned professionals to get on stage and show their poetic skills in front of a noisy, energetic & supportive audience”, it says on their website – hands out small, used orange juice bottles containing some granules – Salt? Rice? It was too dark to see clearly – which audience members are encouraged to shake noisily to show their appreciation. Weirdly, it does seem to work; there’s a real buzz in the room which Thomas Muirhead – the first performer officially on stage – manages to build upon with some skill.

Undoubtedly, these writers and poets perform with verve, energy and real commitment

Muirhead is not the MC, though; this is essentially a tag event, with each performer introducing the next. No sooner has Daniel Piper started things off with the forceful lament of a man who realises he’s made a terrible mistake becoming vegetarian, then he’s introducing another “opportunity to see a little too much of ourselves in someone else”, courtesy of Rachel Malham's poetical letter to “her face twin”, the actor Maggie Gyllenhaal. (Malham is clearly something of a celebrity watcher; she later discusses kebabs and being friends with Kerry Katona, although we’re intended to realise that’s more in a “Facebook friends” sort of way which hasn’t been reciprocated by Ms Katona.)

The flux of people onstage, and the shifting range of styles and subjects, is balanced by a clear structure to this show; each performed poem relates to the one before, if only as an opposite. Kim Pryor's lament about the lost simplicities of low-tech childhoods – “Do kids even sit on kerbs now?” – is immediately contrasted with Stevie Tyler’s more grown-up desire to find some "time to breathe" and relax within “an absence of noise”. Sam Wong – slightly confused by everyone suddenly going all formal and calling him “Samuel” – then relates the previously unrecognised contribution of one of Sir Isaac Newton’s university mates. Then follows a “special guest” spot by co-founder Chris Wolfe in which he explains why he was pleased one girlfriend left him for another woman. Kym Pryor and Ellie Dawes then highlight the conflict between astronomy and astrology, along with what both views of the universe unexpectedly share in common.

There is plenty of humour here, along with literary allusions – such as a modern-day Peter Pan, whose “eat, sleep, rave, repeat” mantra hides darker longings – and a sometimes playful approach to the truth. Undoubtedly, these writers and poets perform with verve, energy and real commitment – the only shame is that there’s little or no time, underneath the spotlights and the shaking percussion, for any of these poems to linger in the mind.

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

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Performances

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The Blurb

London's smash-hit spoken word night Rhymes with Orange comes to Edinburgh for two nights only! Come and experience this noisy, disgustingly fun performance poetry extravaganza, and have yourself some belly laughs in the Belly Dancer.

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