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Home arrow Archive: EdFringe 2013 arrow Scroobius Pip - Words
Scroobius Pip - Words
Published on Wednesday, 21 August 2013

4 stars

Pleasance Dome (venue website)
Spoken Word
7-18, 20-26 Aug, 9:40pm-10:40pm
Reviewed by Jane Bristow

 Recommended for age 18+ only. Venue may not permit under-18's - check with venue before booking.

Aptly named after an Edward Lear poem about an animal that doesn’t know what it is, Scroobius Pip (real name David Meads) is part urban poet, part social critic, part story teller. Pip delivers thoughtful, dark, rhymes with bite, interweaving them with lighter playful chats to create a well-rounded performance. He’s also possessor of what must be one of the Fringe’s most successful beards. Best known for his collaboration with Dan Le Sac on the song Thou Shalt Kill, this is an excellent performance for those in need of something grittier than comedy.

The show is named Words because, at the core, he ponders the freedom the spoken word has brought him – since, despite his dexterous verbal ability, he has a stutter. He also deals with domestic abuse, a stabbing and self-harm. It’s ambiguous as to whether these events are autobiographical or if he’s just playing the role of story teller – he does, after all, explain that he prefers writing about darker material. I’d like to stress however this is no misery-fest, as he offsets the serious content with comments such as how to have fun with a Kinder Egg.

He’s at his best when he brings characters to life. In one poem, four seemingly unconnected people are brilliantly drawn together to create a sad narrative, elegantly illustrating his recurring theme that nothing is ever black and white. With a disarming mixture of humour and seriousness, even his performance is hard to categorise. He claims the lighter parts are only there to make the darker bits more hard-hitting, but this is very much part of the way he teases his audience.

Throughout it all, there’s a refreshing self-awareness in his irreverence, as he muses on the arrogance of standing in a dark room where the only two lights are spotlights on himself. He refers to himself ‘Lady Gaga of spoken word’ only to recount with horror the tale of a reviewer who thought he was being serious. It’s tempting at this point to introduce my own deliberate faux pas, as Pip has a mischievous manner which includes him imagining a reviewer referring to him as ‘plucky Scoobius’ for performing with a stutter.

This was a totally engaging performance which, against a backdrop of suicide and unrequited love, I was surprised to find left me smiling at the end. The informality of the venue suits both his technique and the content of his poems. Although much of the material is harsher than your average Fringe show, this modern-bearded bard arrives at just the right mixture to keep the audience’s attention throughout. He may be hard to pin down, but he’s certainly very enjoyable.

<< The Circus of Terror   The Project >>

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