Review: The Lonely Poet @ Sweet Grassmarket

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Moyan Brenn, Edinburgh Festival / CC
Photograph: Moyan Brenn / CC

Verdict: Recommended Show

Genre: Solo Performance

Venue: Sweet Grassmarket

Website: The Lonely Poet 

Writer/Performer: Tim Honnef

Lowdown

‘Everybody thinks that I’m lonely. Lonely because I spent the last seven years of my life in the basement of my grandfather’s house. Lonely because they think that I refuse to talk to anyone. Lonely because I run away when the postman arrives. But mainly because they all think that loneliness must be something that runs through my family and therefore through my blood and my veins and everything. Or something like that. But boy, are they wrong. So f*cking wrong. Solo show (well, kind of). Poetry. Theatre. You. Yeah you. You, you, you.’

Review

There are two types of experiences to be had during this performance, one is to view it as an audience member and the other is to be selected to have the entire piece performed to you as if they were the only one there. Both have their perks, and possibly their drawbacks. This is definitely unique in my experience, because it raises the question if you can really break the fourth wall if only for one audience member. Perhaps Tim Honnef has just created a hole in the wall instead.

Honey is Jonas who has spent the past seven years living alone in his grandfather’s basement eating beans. But despite what everyone thinks, he has not been lonely. Through poetry, questioning, discussion, and interaction with an audience member Jonas explores his life and that of his late grandfather who was the true poet. It is difficult to pinpoint what the aim of the show is and of the point of the story, yet his odd character, humour, and almost childlike quality make knowing irrelevant. 

Being chosen from the audience as ‘his Zoe’ is to be sucked into his world and enjoy the experience – especially as I was given a carton of Um Bongo. Interacting with Jonas was both fun and slightly terrifying, he has a strong presence and endearing personality making it impossible for me, as someone who does not usually enjoy audience participation, to rebuff him. I did not even object when he had me dance with him in front of the small, but very real, audience. I do wonder how the performance is seen from the viewpoint of those not involved in the show, if the character of Jonas interacting with a nervous non-thespian is as interesting and funny as it is for the one involved.

The intimate setting works very well for this type of show and it would be interesting to see if creating an even more intimate setting would add more depth to the performance. It is sometimes difficult to take it too seriously, though the material has potential to take on much deeper, darker connotations. Tim Honnef interests me and has made me wonder about the innovation of theatre and how the Fringe Festival is impacting on that.

This review originally appeared on FringeReview and is reproduced in partnership with their permission.

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About Christine Lawler 42 Articles
Christine has a passion for literature and has been a closeted writer since childhood. Other passions include theatre, film, and all things geeky. She lives in Glasgow with a cat named Molls and a tortoise named Haruki Kabuki.

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