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Home arrow Archive: Earlier Fringes arrow Archive: Brighton 2012 arrow PIGHOG on the Fringe Bali Brasserie
PIGHOG on the Fringe Bali Brasserie
Published on Sunday, 06 May 2012

3 stars

Bali Brasserie (venue website)
4-6 May, 4:00pm-5:15pm
Reviewed by Alice Ash

 Suitable for age 15+ only.
 World Premiere.

Moss Rich: an unusual man, who at the age of 102, completely blind and partially deaf, was assumed to be ‘the oldest poet writing in England.’ Incredibly astute to the end, in 2005 he launched his poetry collection Requiem for a Typewriter, reciting the collection at its launch entirely from memory. In the last decade of his life he went on to publish three more anthologies of poetry. It’s a fantastic achievement, which A Lifetime of Love encourages us wholly to believe would not have been possible without the wonderfully unending love of his wife Milly.

At his death in December last year, Rich had been married for 72 years. During these 72 years, according to the passionate and moving poems recited in this show, they did not come even close to falling out of love – indeed, the Daily Mirror dubbed them ‘the most romantic couple in Britain’. A Lifetime of Love is proof of this romance, an unashamed but not at all sycophantic look at the reality of this extraordinary couple.

Performed by a two-man cast, A Lifetime of Love poses the fundamental question at the beginning and the end: ‘how can one sum up a life?’ It’s an especially good question when the life in question lasted 102 years. Throughout the play the actors revealed tantalising facts about the poet, but I think that the moments I enjoyed the most were the personal pieces, where the audience were allowed a view of the man behind the talent.

If there was anything to criticise in this recital, it was its eagerness to cover too much of this really very long and full life. It’s not difficult to see why they would be tempted to focus on too many events, as everything that award-winning writer John Davies worked into the script was truly fascinating. The volley of information was enjoyable but overwhelming, like being hit by a Moss Rich tornado. Davies manages to incorporate Mr and Mrs Rich’s involvement in the Nazi opposition, Shell Oil, and ex-Spice-Girl Mel C in just under one hour.

As a result, at some points I felt the show really did move too fast. Personally, I had not read Moss Rich’s poems, and although there was a readily-accessible familiarity his poetry– a soft practical poignancy – I would have liked time to absorb the meanings and layers to Rich’s work. Instead, I found myself reeling at times, especially with the mixture of biography and poetry and historical context and the non-linear timeline. On top of this, the actors, feeling the first night nerves, unconsciously hurried through the performance at points. However, I am confident that these otherwise-superb actors will overcome this for future performances, which will make the show far easier to follow.

Helping me on my way, though, were the enjoyable projections running in the background, which showed Moss and Milly during different stages of their lives. I began to really get a feel for Moss – with his milk-bottle glasses – and for his beautiful wife, dressed in a floor-length gold Biba dress. But, I found the pictures of Moss (or Milly?) as babies a little strange, slightly like I had invaded a private party.  I was ready to celebrate Rich as a great man, and a man who had a fantastic relationship with his wife, but these pictures made me a feel a bit too close and kind of like I didn’t belong.

Despite the flaws, I was deeply moved by A Lifetime of Love, so much so that I parted with an entire tenner for a souvenir (a decent price, as the postcards come beautifully wrapped, each bearing one of Moss’ poems or a eye-watering note to Milly).  There’s room to make this event even better, but I still enjoyed A Lifetime of Love hugely, and would like to thank everyone involved in this piece for introducing me to a wonderfully loving and charming poet: Moss Rich.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Brighton 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.