PULSE gave as three solo shows for the sixth day of the Festival. The First of which was Quarter Life Crisis written and performed by Yolanda Mercy as Alicia a Londoner of Nigerian descent and I really enjoyed the way Yolanda blended these two cultures together with Alicia stressing over her 16-25 railcard while vividly describing the foods and music of Africa. Alicia is single and never stays very long in any retail job, while her friends are getting ‘careers’ and having babies. I really enjoyed Yolanda’s relatable humour but thankfully I definitely don’t feel the pressure to be a grown-up any time soon. To be honest, I didn’t really think Alicia was having much of a ‘crisis’ she seemed in a pretty good position to me, she had a degree and was having a good time, from the way things are going I doubt if I’ll get a single A-level, but Pulse over revision any day!
Then it was on to the studio for Frankie Vah by Luke Wright. This was the first modern, or anything not Shakespearian, I’d seen written in verse and I was really impressed. It seemed like he barely paused or even took a breath and there was a great energy throughout. Set during the 80s, Frankie Vah was the stage name of Simon, who pushed against his conservative vicar father with left-wing politics and his career in ranting performance poetry. The mixture of Thatcherism, the relationships between the characters, all played by Luke Wright, and Frankie Vah’s growing stardom touring with the band The Midnight Shift (a John Cooper Clarke reference?) kept the show exciting and probably gave a great sense of what it was like living in the 80s, not that I was there, but it did sound how my mum described it back in her perm days. I have also watched some Spitting Image in history, sorry if that makes anyone feel old. Overall the show was very clever and energetic and really fun to watch.
White was the final show of the evening and more spoken word performed by Koko Brown alongside the use of vocal looping, which I think sounds so cool. White focuses on Koko’s identity as a mixed-race woman, and the idea of mixed-race privilege, which I had never really thought about. I found the piece fascinating and really enjoyed hearing these ideas from a perspective which is unrepresented in theatre. I really got a sense of honesty which I loved and it was definitely one of the best shows I have seen on identity and race. It was both funny and powerful.
Be sure not to miss love Moonfall, Education, Education, Education, The Audit and Hammerhead if these shows sound right up you street you’ll be in for a treat!