I know; you’re just in the mood for a night out of poetry… No? Well Telia Nevile might change your mind. She’s not only a winning wordsmith, but an engaging performer who understands the unappreciated nature of her calling and wants to convert everyone to her passion for poetry. She does this via her alter ego the similarly named Poet Laureate Telia Nevile a persona she maintains until the very end when the show is over.
Our Poet Laureate is in her pyjamas in a room with a cosy armchair and coffee table that still manages to conjure the feel of a bedroom from which she is hosting her own pirate radio poetry show. It’s a radio show that includes segments called Pet Peeves and Story Time. It is a pretty standard teen fantasy, similar to putting on concerts in your bedroom while singing into your hairbrush… which I hear some teens do. ehem. In past shows, often in school uniform, the Poet Laureate has been portrayed as an angst ridden teenager and that is how she seems when we first meet her, but the show appears to skip through the years as she becomes a grown up Telia going through some sort of mid life crisis. The echoes of the angsty teen in the early poems are gradually left behind as she rails against the drudgery of boring jobs that artists must take to survive in ‘The Working Blues’, then onto following her dreams and finally it’s about not losing hope even after years of struggling which made this show seem more personal than previous ones.
The show was a little uneven with some stand out pieces soaring above the rest but everything was pretty entertaining. The stand outs were her Pet Peeves segment which was a cookie-monster style roared rant about punctuation set to music by German industrial metal legends Rammstein and the Story Time segment which was some hilarious gay fan fiction about two characters on The West Wing that became explicit enough to give this show a possible AO rating! So you might not want to take anyone who’s easily embarrassed. The crowd-pleasing tribute to 80s Rock love ballads was not a new concept and went on a bit long, but proved that we’ve forgotten just how successful Phil Collins was.
The night I was there happened to be the day the tunnels were closed and Melbourne had severe traffic jams. She had to put up with nearly half her audience arriving late, while the show was in progress in a tiny space and she kept right going without letting it distract her. Or at least letting the distraction show. It was a bit of a problem for the audience, because the language is so dense that the show requires some serious concentration. That concentration pays off though because there is a lot to enjoy and her final poem about surviving as an artist was a stunner that brought a tear to my eye.
I’ve always enjoyed Telia Nevile’s work, she’s been able to consistently create new ways to make her audience laugh with her clever poetry and personas. I look forward to seeing what she comes up with next.