John Hegley: Morning Wordship
- Kelly Apter
- 5 August 2018
Cross-generational guffaws with the performance poet
In an ideal world, John Hegley would be mass-produced and sold in the shops. Not his books, they're already out there, but the man himself. Family life would be a lot easier if you could just open the cupboard and pull out your Hegley every time things got fractious, heated or miserable. He'd calm people down, cheer everyone up and distract you long enough to forget what you were bothered about.
The performance poet has spent so many years handling beered-up punters in comedy clubs and children in schools, that he knows how to deal with just about anyone. And for 'deal with' read 'make laugh', because one of the joys of sitting in a Hegley show for families, is wataching his cross-generational appeal in action. Whether it's at his ludicrous drawings, silly join-in songs, or clever and unexpectedly structured poems, he hits the spot with all ages and brings in the laughs. The odd hilarious comment in Morning Wordship is thrown specifically at the adults, but precious few – Hegley knows his audience and pitches it perfectly so no-one feels excluded.
Starting with a picture painted by his father in France years ago, he works his way through a series of photographs and sketches, peppering the act with key words and phrases that the audience has to respond to at each hearing. We get them right eventually.
You get a sense that this show has been cut and paste from various past sources: Hegley's popular children's picture book, Stanley's Stick; school visits, and previous theatre shows. But it all hangs together well, albeit a little tenuously (not that we care), via the series of slides he clicks through at pace.
If you're a fan of Hegley, you'll already know what to expect. If not, his droll, dead pan yet utterly charming manner is the ideal antidote to the in-your-face exuberance overload at the Fringe.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 19 Aug (not 8, 13, 15), 10.30am, £10 (£8).