Friday, 23 May 2014

REVIEW - She Grrrowls at the Gallery Cafe

Last Monday, I spent the evening in the company of some very talented women at She Grrrowls: Lost and Found in London's fashionable East End. I was invited to guest host the show, which takes place at The Gallery Café every third Monday of the month. 

This month's event was filled to the brim with wonderful poets, comedians and musicians, and I couldn't wait to get down there! 

In fact, let me tell you all about it:

Lateisha Lovelace Hanson
Lateisha Davine Lovelace-Hanson was first to take the mic, reciting a superb collection of poems illustrating the concept of 'Lost and Found'. Lateisha's poetry was incredibly engaging, and the themes associated with identity were articulated with an eloquence and maturity that really impressed the crowd. 

Lateisha had a commanding stage presence and a great rapport with the audience. A trained actor, her poetry was strengthened by her confident performance, and I really felt like I was watching someone on the cusp of great things.

Next up was the fantastically funny Mia Lane, whose comic timing and strange, tangential musings had the audience in stitches. Mia's comedy is self-deprecating, without being depressive and whimsical, without being twee. A perfect balance between dry, deadpan wit and surreal silliness. Her interaction with a bespectacled member of the audience was inspired, and her thoughts on human taxidermy (post-mortem, obviously) had me sniggering into my reasonably-priced drink. She's a great talent, and one to watch out for in the coming years.

Sabrina Mahfouz by Naomi Woddis
Sabrina Mahfouz is one of the best young poets working in the UK today, and I was really excited about getting the chance to see her perform live. She's a prolific writer of poetry, articles and fiction, with a number of award-winning plays under her belt.

The work she performed at She Grrowls was deftly written, thought-provoking and affecting. Sabrina's poetry is so well constructed that it feels almost conversational, and she writes about big issues in an incredibly accessible way - never shying away from giving a well-crafted opinion or packing each line with beautiful, and sometimes brutal, imagery. If you ever get the chance to see one of her shows, please go! You won't be disappointed.

Mama Tokus
Finally, the musical entertainment was provided by Mama Tokus, a funky, funny feminist songwriter, poet and musician, who performed a fantastic set to round off the evening. The audience were soon jiving along her catchy tunes - and though it might have been unwise to sing about cannibalism in a vegan café - Mama Tokus styled it out with aplomb. 

She's a regular favourite at festivals in the UK and abroad, and has played everywhere from the Burning Man to Big Chill, and Madame Jojo's to the Barbican International Jazz and Blues Festival. Her fresh and feisty lyrics got us all nodding along in agreement, and my favourite song of the evening was definitely her tongue-in-cheek Eminem parody. Amazing! 

If that wasn't enough, there was some absolutely cracking talent on the open mic too! With a real mix of styles and genres, we listened to some beautiful poetry, a fantastic piece of composed spoken word, some great comedy, and an incredibly graphic true story from a lady called Chloe that, for reasons of taste, will not be repeated here.

All in all, it was a fantastic night! My hosting skills are still not as polished as I'd like, but I'm getting better!  I only mispronounced one name this time, and won my wrestling match with the dodgy mic-stand. Plus, I read a few poems that seemed to go down fairly well, so I'm counting it as a positive overall! 

Practise makes perfect, as they say!

Seriously though, it was an absolute pleasure to be involved in such an inspiring event, and a massive thanks to Camina Masoliver for inviting me to take part! I strongly suggest that you check out the next She Grrrowls event, which is on Monday 16th June at the Gallery Café, in Bethnal Green.

See the She Grrrowls website for more info.

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