Review: Spork! The Valentine(ish) Edition @ Exeter Phoenix

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Spork! is a delightful evening of poetry, comedy, rap and performance, which brings together local artists in celebration of spoken word. Hosted by Chris White, Spork! is full of the weird and wonderful, it’s variety making each show unique, exciting and guaranteed to include something for everyone. On Tuesday 11 February, I was lucky enough to see their ‘Valentine(ish)’ special, in which poetic performances were based (loosely) on theme of love.

I had no idea what to expect, but when Robert Garnham opened the show in a pink feather boa and sparkly sequin hat, I was excited. Garnham’s light-hearted lyrics livened up the audience, occasionally messing with rhyme and expectation to keep us on our toes and laughing all the way. His silly and charming poems really settled the audience in for the rest of the evening, making us feel immediately at home with his lovable personality.


Photo Credit: Ben Bullman Photography

Next up was Roisin Crowley Linton, who brought a completely different and energetic vibe to the stage. Introducing herself as a ‘general gobshite from Newcastle’, Roisin captured the audience with her hilarious wit and down-to-earth nature, her outgoing personality making her effortlessly likeable. Her poetry, too, was beautiful, and striking in its contrasts from humorous to heart-felt. From an emotional piece about her boyfriend to celebrating her own boobs, Roisin brought not only an infectious laughter to the stage, but a lovely sense of warmth. She encouraged us to open up a little to the people around us – a small but unique request that I’d never experienced at a spoken word event – which got us to embrace our vulnerability and have a laugh at ourselves, and soon her presence made the large auditorium feel like a warm, fuzzy hug. A hilarious and unique poet, I imagine (and hope!) Roisin will go far.

Soon followed an exquisite rap performance from upcoming local artist Obadiah, who’s mastery of language was astounding. Whether accompanied by a grime track or simply solo, Obadiah expressed incredible talent in his spoken word with his insanely quick pace and flawless rhymes, alongside a beat that had several audience members vibing happily on their feet.


Photo Credit: Ben Bullman Photography

The final act of the night was Roisin’s Brother – a stage name, unrelated to the previous Roisin – who concluded with some absurd and hysterical stand-up and poetry. At times both incredibly witty and completely nonsensical, Roisin’s Brother had a bizarre and enigmatic set that had the audience in stitches. My top poem of the night was his titled ‘Good People are Hard to Come By’, in which that latter verb took a hilarious literal turn in his poetic depiction of masturbatory misadventures. I – like others around me – were in tears, as Roisin’s Brother kept a stern, straight, honest face through his entire performance. Another favourite was the fast-paced, politically aware but humorously extreme list of ‘all the things worse than finding half a caterpillar in your salad’ – based on the worn-out joke – which concluded with a quiche being thrown at an audience member. Roisin’s Brother left the crowd in hysterics, and while it’s hard to articulate the unexpected absurdity of his straight-faced humour, it’s safe to say none of us expected him to draw us into a cult for BBC Political Editor, Laura Kuenssberg.


Photo Credit: Ben Bullman Photography

Overall, Spork! was an uplifting and joyful night of poetry and performance, and this month’s Valentine special filled the room with love in all its hilarious, heart-breaking, meaningless and meaningful ways. With an incredibly talented line-up and a charming host, Spork! celebrates spoken word poetry in all its forms, making for an authentic and amusing show to please any audience member. I hope to catch more of their events in future!

– Eleanor-Rose Gordon

Featured Image: Ben Bullman Photography




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