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Etcetera Theatre, London

Will Penswick bills himself as the worst performance poet in the world. Don’t believe him – this is a seriously funny show and he is a very sharp performer. As we enter the theatre, Penswick is already on stage, perched on a stool, looking worried – perhaps this is explained by the Newcastle Northern Rock football shirt he is wearing under his jacket. He begins with a classic bit of “haven’t we met somewhere before” flirting with a young woman in the front row who he returns to flirt with a couple of times later in the show. He then launches into the heart of his performance which is structured around a series of poems, some of them absurd and rambling, some of them very clever, all incorporating word play that deserves a second hearing. And the witty way the poems are linked completes the package.

He has some themes that he returns to – one of them being an unhealthy interest in the love lives of Tim Henman and Maria Sharapova. He has a very funny poem about inter-railing with some caustic comments about the cities he visited. He even manages to incorporate some sideways swipes at Harry and Meghan. And whenever his ego threatens to get the better of him, he always finds a way to puncture his own bubble. One of his most endearing qualities is the way he relates to the members of the audience he draws into his world – if he offers you a bell to ring, you should definitely take it.

The programme blurb tells us that Dank Verse is the result of Will playing around with silly poems that he has been writing since graduating from Trinity College, Dublin and performing around the London comedy scene. It also tells us that the show will be moving on to Brighton and Edinburgh – if you can see it at either of those festivals you will be in for a comic treat.

About The Author

Reviewer (UK)

Owen Davies was brought up in London but has Welsh roots. He was raised on chapel hymns, Handel oratorios and Mozart arias. He began going to the theatre in the 1960s and, as a teenager, used to stand at the back of the Old Vic stalls to watch Olivier's National Theatre productions. He also saw many RSC productions at the Aldwych in the 1960s. At this time he also began to see operas at Covent Garden and developed a love for Mozart, Verdi, and Richard Strauss. After a career as a social worker and a trade union officer, Owen has retired from paid employment but as a 'mature student' he has recently gained a certificate in Opera Studies from Rose Bruford College.​

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