Skip to content


My Life As A Footnote
Published on Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Epic poetry is an acquired taste, but I'm a fan. I went to see Dave Cohen's lunchtime show precisely because it was billed as an hour-long performance poem – and well aware that such a thing would be enough to send other people running.

Okay, I accept this long-running string of rhyming couplets isn't strictly epic; Cohen's autobiographical tale is perhaps not on the scale of Beowulf or The Faerie Queene, but the story of his bumbling involvement in the first WOMAD festival has some degree of grand scope. On the other hand, even a clueless poetry nerd like me has a few issues with the idea that this was really a poem. It rhymed. Sort of. Some of the time.

Sadly, it felt in the end like the 'poetry' structure had been added to give some point of interest to an otherwise lacklustre show. Which it kind-of did – some of the inventive couplets were pretty fun, like cashback/flashback and Genesis/nemesis – but I wonder if the rhymes lacked reason. The story still seemed plodding, which is odd because I find pop-culture history outings rather fun; and the tale of Cohen's struggle to help keep WOMAD afloat until Phil Collins finally bailed them out ought to be fascinating. But here – the occasional inspired rhyme aside – it fell quite flat.

The story was interspersed with asides about Cohen's hopeless love life. The idea seemed to be that all his trials and mishaps were caused by his attempts to impress various women who were really not interested in him. Maybe this would have added an interesting – if unoriginal – level of irony to Cohen's story of being a small part of music history, but the woman he was trying to impress seemed to change every few minutes and I was never sure what he saw in any of them. He portrayed himself falling hopelessly for every woman who crossed his path; poor man.

I really wanted to like this show more: there's a nugget of something really interesting in here, and I admired its inventiveness.  But, in the end, it wasn't really funny enough to be stand-up… nor artful enough to be performance poetry.

<< Otherwise   The Short & Girlie Show >>


These are archived reviews of shows from Brighton 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.