The show consists of three poets, each armed with a selection of witty, inventive and dramatic pieces written by themselves, performing to the audience during three distinct sections.
It was a close-knit crowd, with veterans of the slam poetry scene outnumbering newcomers. As a result, the atmosphere was extremely relaxed from start to finish, creating an ideal setting for embracing the spoken word performances on stage. It felt like this bolstered the poets as well, who were all returning to live theatre for the first time since the pandemic.
There are different poets during each showing. This one boasted punk-inspired Paul Case, fourth place finisher in the world series of slam poetry Carly Brown and the ever lyrical Mark Gallie. All three deliver strong, heartfelt performances. Gallie was the comedic highlight, giving the audience few chances to catch their breath after each bout of laughter. Case carried forward a very authentic voice, with performative motions that empathised the intensity of his pieces. Brown delivered the strongest poem of the show with her 50 Shades of Grey inspired criticism of female representation in literature. The poem is filled with superb thematic cohesion and genuine passion.
For the most part, the performative elements felt essential to each poem. The ability to directly inject emotion into the words through movement and changes in vocal tone justified the need to watch them being performed, rather than reading them in an anthology.
Linking the three performers together was the host, Kevin Mclean. An absolute powerhouse of on-stage charisma and vocal intensity, his two poems were an excellent mix of funny and deeply moving, particularly his second one about the pain and insecurity that can manifest when sharing compliments. He could quite easily carry an entire show by himself.
The formatting of the show however, could have been better. The opening section saw each poet come onstage and read out a poem they had been dying to perform and the third (and strongest) section gave each of them a chance to work through a full set. The second act was a mock-the-week style game in which random prompts would be thrown up and one of the poets would take centre stage and read out a poem based on it. Of course, they were given a full list of potential prompts to prepare for before the show, improvising an entire poem is a tall order but this begged the question, why not just let them read out their strongest poems? Because of the random nature of the game, one poet was unfortunate enough not to be given any of the prompts he was hoping for, which led to a degree of awkwardness. It was an interesting concept, and certainly a section dedicated to a gameshow-esque bit could work very well, especially if it gives the poets a chance to play off of each other, but this was a bit of a low point for the show.
Despite this, it was still a very entertaining hour. Loud Poets is a staple of Scotland’s slam poetry scene, and if anyone ever expresses the desire to get into spoken word performance, this is where you should direct them. They perform year round and have an active social media base in @Iamloud.