Mouthy Poets – eclectic, exuberant and heart-felt. I’d heard a lot about Mouthy before I had the pleasure of meeting them. I had followed Deborah as she set up the organisation, and watched it flourish from afar, and I am lucky enough to know some of the members who have all spoken incredibly highly of the ethos and community spirit that Mouthy embodies. So when I was asked to be the headliner for their first date of the Mouthy Tour in London, I was excited to finally meet more of them as a collective, and hear their work. In the pre-show warm up, led by Debris, the energy and passion that each member brought was infectious. They (and eventually I) were not afraid to look silly, or make ridiculous noises in the vocal warm-ups – this level of commitment to movement and intent transferred to their command of the stage.
What struck me most about Mouthy Poets On Tour was the originality, both in the content and the way this content was expressed. The themes were as broad as online relationships with ‘cyber women’, the burden a family name can sometimes hold, and whether to listen to your head or your heart in matters of love and biscuit consumption (yes, that section was as hilarious as it sounds). It felt performative in a very real sense, transporting us to these various settings and states of mind – hospitals, night-clubs, airport security. It was much more than a series of poets reading their work, but in no way did it feel like an overly theatrical, disconnected production. The balance was perfectly struck, creating a seamless performance with no scripts in sight that felt fluid, conversational and accessible.
The show itself was carefully shaped to guide the audience through a range of emotions and thoughts. A particular effective shift for me came with a poem in the voice of a young girl in a psychiatric ward. What had been quite a light, humorous beginning was unsettled with this vulnerable, truthful monologue. The variety in tone and topic, for me, highlighted the work that Mouthy seek to do as a collective – they give a space to be who you are, without apology, and offer complete acceptance of that person, a space to explore what matters to you, through your unique voice, whilst getting continuous support from the other members. Just before the audience entered, each member was asked to say in one sentence why they were there – one answer stuck with me more than any other – ‘Before Mouthy, I was drifting’ – I believe that the wider community of Mouthy poets which exists beyond the show is what makes the level of honesty and truth in the show possible, and it was a beautiful thing to witness.
Catch Mouthy Poets On Tour at their next stop – Mumford Theatre, Cambridge on the 7th of February – and look on their website for details of all their other stops. If anything, it’s worth it just to hear the chocolate Hob Nob line (you’ll know the one I mean).