I was thrilled to present the Comedy Night for Playerist Literary Magazine at the Poetry Society in Covent Garden. Needing to ensure spot-on timing felt a little like operating a conveyor-belt. But what a conveyor-belt. It’s rare to be privy to such a collection of talent, and so pleasing to see a full-house at this venerated venue. The Poetry Café is smartly situated, central but hidden, in the heart of the city. This year saw Jillian Miller come aboard as the magazine’s patron, and she kicked-off proceedings with much appreciated verse by John Cooper Clarke. Drawing on two decades of public speaking, as CEO of an international charity, Jillian sparkled and lit the touchpaper. Next up was Brighton poetess (self-termed) Amy Neilson Smith who recited her naughty-but-nice rhymes. This girl has gumption and little wonder she’s in such demand, as fellow of the iPoets collective that last summer performed at the Royal Festival Hall.
Imogen Miller Porter recounted the dirverse work experience of a jobbing actor. Her superb stage-skills bolstered a masterful monologue and kept the audience enthralled. Imogen specialises in interactive theatre, and co-founded the production company Shambush whose recent ‘Wuthering Heights’ flash-mob at Brighton’s Stanmer Park made national headlines. The evening unfolded as a series of ‘How To Follow That?’ However, London playwright and actor Tanja Mariadoss ensured peals of laughter with every layer unpeeled from her wincing yet winsome ‘The Very Tired Man on the Train’. Tanja also leads a production company, Breaking 30, and should you miss their Halloween Cabaret at World’s End Studios it will haunt you.
Mr. Chris Sav enjoys the highest praise for his rib-tickling line-drawings but for Playerist scribed written lines. His sublime short-story was as warmly-received as that first early-morning cup of char… a mellow and assured reading during an evening of contrasts. And things took another turn with the Mad-Hatterish ‘Tea Party’ of feminist commentator Piroska Markus. The set of Playerist contributors concluded with a surprise appearance from iconic actor Margaret Nolan who afforded an exclusive reading of her deeply-personal memoir of Spike Milligan; her performance simply magical. Lastly, a sassy Sarah Rayner dished-out delirious ditties about – vegetables. The most bittersweet, of course, concerning the plight of a suicidal parsnip.
The wizardry of folk-jazz-fusion duo Vienna Spring came hot-on-the-heels of an excellent Open Mic. During the short interval, guests enjoyed the delights of the upstairs café as the enchantment filtered-through. This up-and-coming combo are in constant demand across the capital – a Win:Win combining the astounding skills of song-smiths Jenny Gould and Alo Ïce. In the hour before closing, there was a real buzz about the words and music. It was the best start to an early weekend, and made Friday seem so much more worthwhile.
The Poetry Café hosts regular and affordable events (see its online calendar) and is an essential port-of-call for any lover of literature. The Basement holds an impressive array of literary magazines including Playerist. Issue 3 is available to order for £3 via its Facebook page, home to a growing on-line community. Playerist is a non-profit independent publication, supporting established and emergent writers from the UK and worldwide.