Reviews of the Ephemeral

Posts Tagged ‘Susie Wild’

‘Across The Water’ and ‘Swamp Area’ by Alistair Noon

In Pamphlets on April 16, 2012 at 10:28 am

– reviewed by Susie Wild –

Noon invites us to experience life seen as ‘A matinee at the Theatre of Water’ in these two pamphlets, plunging hidden depths and murky shallows. His chosen forms both follow rules and break rank. A pleasing, readable rhythm pulses through these slim volumes, ebbs and flows like the tide.

In Across The Water we glimpse fragments that have captured Noon’s attention. His poems blend fleeting flitting thoughts with snapshot word sketches to give us a sense of those moments. The 20-part title sequence is a good example of this brevity of style and expression, using little to say much. His sharp pen portraits capture the city and her people with mica glimmers of tongue in cheek humour. Sun shines, saplings grow and bubbles blow as failings are confessed, skies sag, rubbish is bagged and the dark is disturbed:

’15

A half-built
tower,

windowless
in the rain, as if

towelless
in a bathroom,

I walk in on it.’

Noon’s poems chart the liminal and the littoral, dot-to-dot points along horizon, coastline and tideline, as ‘Revocable gusts / design the dunes: we write / our footnotes on their sides’. Across the Water was originally published as joint winner of the Mimesis Digital Chapbook Initiative in 2008 and an earlier version of Swamp Area appeared online through Intercapillary Editions in 2009, however both pamphlets have been revised and expanded for 2012 publication with Longbarrow Press.

From saltwater surf and sailors we move to the marshy, watery terrain of Noon’s second and more promising pamphlet collection Swamp Area, an astute examination of the sinking motions of modern life whether at a Media Studies conference or by ‘the vanished cliffs of the Berlin Wall.’ In ‘Filling the Triangle’ suits stagnate in the daily commute, a people freight chain who live by the tracks:

‘Three lines disperse us
on zigzag seats;
our overalls and suits
make a daily diaspora.

The terminally bored
have grooved the glass.’

The turning of pages moves us from the bare skin, Cold War air and graffitied thoughts of track and station to the squatters’ breath of the street. Sequences depict the vascular networks that guide vehicles and vendors across the urban terrain. A land scattered with expired permits and echoes through history. 10 in this series describes two tenements: ‘On one, disrepair has skimmed first letters / off ream, utter and ilk.’ The other offers a peachy, glowing future. It’s sign is: ‘the floating seaweed that predicts the shore: / Events, Consultancy, Design.’ Life moves with the times, against the tide.

In Swamp Area the land that shifts and crumbles, shape-shifting and pooling around the jetsam and flotsam scars of half-remembered times where ‘New towers berlinned on the banks,/ and new banks berlinned in the towers.’ and:

‘We hurtle across the surface
on the lines of its changing face,
through the napped-out terrain.
We are the talking trains.’

Where Across The Water allows us to tuck ourselves into the gaps between Noon’s thoughts, providing us with people watching fodder from afar – across shore, or horizon – Swamp Area allows us to draw closer, to dig deeper and to snoop through holes in the fence, or a twitch of the net curtain. Like city life it strips its subjects of personal space, and gives us a head-full of eavesdroppings to mull over.

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WASTED by Kate Tempest

In Performance Poetry on April 5, 2012 at 11:35 am

– reviewed by Susie Wild –

@Sherman Cymru, Cardiff – 24 March 2012

Tempest: Spoken Word to Stage

Kate Tempest has already made a name for herself on the spoken word scene as a poet, rapper and hip hop artist, but with a surname like hers it seems only right that she should cross over to writing for the stage. It is a successful move. Her debut play takes the best elements of these lyrical influences to tell an engaging, emotive story of three friends knee-deep in weekends and growing too old for the drug-fuelled South London party scene.

Friends raving or stuck in a rut?

The friends have known each other since their teens, and now in their mid-twenties, are finding new concerns, aware that in another decade they don’t want to still be gurning at parties, like the people they used to laugh at. On the ten year anniversary of their friend Tony’s death  they each visit his commemorative tree – which at least changes four times a year with the seasons – and make confessions of stagnation. Charlotte (Lizzy Watts) walks out of her job as a teacher and books a flight, wanting to move on, to make a difference – ‘I’m making a decision. I’m changing things. This is it.’ Danny (Ashley George) has a last chance to get what he wants and struggles to man up to the occasion whilst Ted (Cary Cranson) has a job and steady girlfriend but is resigning himself to growing up and going nowhere.

A slice of shared ‘wasted’ experience

Wasted is a wittily knowing and dynamic production, managing to relate the rave experience to those still enjoying it and those who have grown past it in equal measure – nostalgic winks and weary wising up cocktail-mixed in with the loved up togetherness of the shared experience. They dance in warehouses in Peckham where art students are ‘experiencing ketamine’ and all the people there have ‘adjectives as names’ and they spend ‘life retelling life and it’s getting boring.’ and ‘dropping pills just so that we can smile at each other without looking away.’ Acting drunk on stage is hard enough to do and get right, but here all three actors act perfectly wasted as they hug speakers and each other and make plasticine faces.

The show talks of trying to jolt yourself out of that rut where you do the same things as you have always done, but now going to parties you get fucked just to have something to say to each other, and that something is often nostalgia for those first parties, those times when it was all exciting and fun and new. Originally commissioned for Latitude 2011, it speaks to a festival going audience and mixes between pounding music and those early morning ‘what does it all mean, what are we doing?’ lucid conversations and the ‘I’m-getting-too-old-for-this-shit!’ comedown realisations and resolutions to do something else, something more, or perhaps just pop another pill, have another dab – ‘We forgot our epiphany the minute that we thought it.’

Fresh and innovative theatre

Paines Plough have a reputation for putting on innovative new works and spotting the direction that theatre is moving in ahead of the pack. Here, director James Grieve taps into the rising spoken word scene in the UK and make something fresh. Wasted places Tempest’s lucid words into the mouths of a strong cast, especially the emphatically charming Cary Cranson, and allows them to breathe. The multi-media piece effectively mixes poetry, monologue, music and drama yet falls down with the film background, which adds nothing to the other all production, except occasional unwanted distraction. However this, and the delayed start due to technical hitches – this was the first night of the tour where they were without their full team – were my only grievances with an otherwise exhilarating show. In her mid-twenties also, Tempest writes what she knows here and in doing so makes Wasted a heartfelt call to arms to a lost generation, reminding her peers that it isn’t too late to change track, to go for what you want.

Wasted is currently on tour. For dates and to see the video trailer visit: http://www.painesplough.com/current-programme/by-date/wasted