John Hegley: Peace, Love and Potatoes
As a member of the audience at John Hegley gig, you are judged for your performance by him as much as he is by you. He judges the quality of your applause against that of previous audiences, and then there is the audience participation...
Some of the poems have actions which we have to learn, and some have lines that different sections of the audience have to deliver at different times—some of which are quite complex. It certainly keeps you awake, but there is a danger that you are not giving the poems the attention they deserve as you are listening for your cue.
The show delves into Hegley's European heritage, especially his French father, a painter, and his grandmother, whom he emphasises is completely French—she was even a dancer at the Folies Bergères. Her letter criticising his drawing of a dog when he was a child was harsh but fair.
He delivers a wide range of his poems and songs, old and new, including a few of his animal poems—"Guillemot" is a favourite of ours but it gains more actions every time I see him do it—plus a short French tale translated into English by a willing member of the audience.
Hegley's charismatic presence and dry delivery draw you into his quirky world, so that even when he chastises you, you feel he is doing so for your own good. As much stand-up as poetry, Hegley is always worth seeing.
Reviewer: David Chadderton