Two years ago Richard Tyrone Jones a healthy, gym-going, performance poet was diagnosed with chronic heart failure on the eve of his thirtieth birthday. As he complains, ‘I couldn’t get a job (I had heart failure!), I couldn’t get a girlfriend (I had heart failure!), and I couldn’t even get the title of my first one man show... ah!’
A whirlwind tour through the events of his stay in hospital and afterwards, Tyrone Jones’s story is never wearisome, peppered as it is with poetic anecdotes, including a hilarious moment when he converts a coke-addled drug dealer’s phone conversation into a Petrarchan sonnet and another when his doctor complained that his ‘bebop’ cardiac rhythms were ‘not compatible with life’. His previous performances have typically been fairly standard, if energetic, poetry readings, but there’s a degree of theatricality to this new performance in the depths of the Banshee Labyrinth. Here he darts around the stage, with fancy cartoons projected onto the back wall and although some moments feel forced (he’s not the best actor), it’s a refreshing innovation in the spoken word scene.
There are gruesome moments too, but there’s an embrace of the unpleasantness of his condition that somehow demystifies it. Even though he lives with the help of a ‘drug casserole’ that outweighs his ailing grandfather’s, he is unerringly optimistic, and his current enthusiasm is a testament to how far we can all recover from even the darkest diagnoses.