Tim Turnbull's Tales of Terror - Free

It ought to be mentioned from the beginning that Tim's Turnbull's Tales of Terror aren't particularly terrifying, but it soon becomes apparent that actual thrills and chills aren't really the point. What this actually is has something more unusual to offer, a series of poems and songs shot through with a dry, sardonic wit and linked together by a tight focus on the sinister side of life. Turnbull is an impressive figure, buttoned up in a three-piece suit with a vaguely fin-de-siècle moustache, brilliantined hair, and a pentangle that appears to be hand-drawn on the front of his notepad. He speaks in a smooth Yorkshire drawl, recalling a more theatrical Simon Armitage or a steampunk Jarvis Cocker, and the sung portions of his set are closer to Sprechgesang, possessing the spirit of the antiquated music hall tradition with which their creator is clearly familiar. It's not a laugh a minute, but the control and flexibility of his command of rhyme and metre can raise a chuckle all by themselves (by which I mean, they are a grin-inducing display of skill, rather than 'LOL! An anapaest!'), before being bolstered by the wry observations that make up their content. Much of Turnbull's art is in juxtaposition, putting everyday banalities into the lives of freakish 'terrors of the deep', comparing Lady Gaga to a two-headed sideshow exhibit, and in the set's prose centrepiece telling the story of a horse haunted by a goat named 'BAZRAEL'. It's less effective when the humour drops and one issue is that, with work so reliant on pacy, rhythmic delivery, the occasional stuttering restart from Turnbull frequently risks breaking the momentum of a piece. But it's free, it's funny, and he's a wonderful showman, so if you've got nothing else to do for these forty minutes, you might as well roll up, roll up.

Reviews by Richard O'Brien

The Blurb

Award-winning performance poet Turnbull's comic exploration of the supernatural, the uncanny and the downright horrid in finely-crafted verse, prose and song. 'The future poet laureate' (Guardian).