With the Poets is a simple concept and one that sounds boring when it’s written down. Regina’s Alan Bratt stands at the front of the venue and performs poems. Don’t get me wrong – it’s nothing like the oratory contests of 5th and 6th graders. Bratt provides the audience with a menu of poems and asks the audience to request which poem is read next by shouting out the title. The show is pretty much the equivalent of a poetry reading vending machine.
The result: Awsomeness! Bratt is an expert performance reader and is well versed in the topical nature of the poetry he’s reading. He channels the power of written poetry from the page into spoken word flawlessly and clearly understands why writing good poetry is an art.
The show is slower and far less arcade then more traditional performances, but as an audience member, having the chance to interact and help steer the performance gives this show replay value that other shows struggle to achieve. The audience helps make this performance fun, but that can work negatively so I recommend seeing this with a group. The poetry menu Bratt provides is varied and covers most significant historical poetry movements from Shakespeare, the Romantics through to the Beats and beyond.
Shows like this are the reason that Fringe Festivals are great. Albeit, if you hate poetry and have no interest in performance poetry then this show is not for you. Whether you’re an English professor or simply have a vague interest in poetry, Bratt’s powerful performance will leave you shouting out the titles of poems you’ve never heard and smiling at the result. Bring your friends and don’t be shy!
Bratt performing Allen Gingsberg’s “A supermarket in Califonia” is one of the best readings I’ve ever seen.
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