Review by Flossie Waite
Half Moon presents a Word Pepper Theatre production
For ages 3+
Touring 2015, details here
There’s no end of innovation in plays for young audiences; plenty of cutting-edge techniques to go around. I’ve seen aerial acrobatic performances, productions with animating hand-held projectors, site-specific staging, shows with smells, with sandpits, with elements of scenes filmed separately and beamed together onto a screen in front of an audience’s eyes. All Joe Coelho has in an old OHP, a few pictures on transparent sheets, and a handful of poems, but The Poetry Joe Show is still one of the best hours I’ve spent in a theatre.
Joe Coelho could perform large chunks of his show with his back to the audience and still be entertaining. Which is lucky for him, as that’s exactly how he spends the beginning of the production, hunched over his huge copy of The Book of Light Poems, flinging out odd scraps of paper. This book contains poetry unlike anything you will have read or learnt at school. Each original poem is illuminated by the projector, and brightened by Coelho’s spoken word skills.
From making a book fart, to folding up his nan so he can take her everywhere, The Poetry Joe Show shoots from toilet humour to the touching (by way of everything in between) as fast as you can say ‘bilge water’. And Coelho did say bilge water, at the suggestion of an audience member – he incorporated it into a poem without batting an eyelid. This is a partly-improvised, hugely-interactive show, that has the audience dancing in seconds, shouting rhymes in minutes, and writing poems by the end.
They don’t call Joe Coelho ‘Poetry Joe’ for nothing – here is a seriously talented writer-performer who wears his genius lightly. If you don’t mind briefly losing your hearing as a young audience plead (read: scream, loudly) for another poem, The Poetry Joe Show is for you.
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