live review // Dead Poets Death Match

live reviews "Seamless word flow between the two performers blends comedy, music and lyrics and makes for a unique poetry show."

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Something I never thought I would see – two of my favourite modern day poets dressing up as dead poets and rap battling!

Mark Grist is a lyrical poet and MC Mixy is an accomplished rapper, and together they present a spoken word show where each attempt to convince the audience of the importance of their favourite dead poets. Each performer has chosen four wordsmiths, and their teams are presented on a screen showing the concept as an 8-bit video game. This was a nice touch and added to the fun and excitement of the show.

The format of the show is effectively simple with each poet being introduced through a collaborative on-beat piece which is “unintentionally” educational, giving the audience an idea of the lives and work of each poet. This is followed by a solo skit where each performer shares something they have created after being inspired by the work or the life of their chosen poet, often regaling the audience with a memory or sharing a sentiment. This was topped off with both performers dressing as their respective poets as they battled it out. Egged on by the Cambridge Junction crowd, failure would result in the loser downing a combination of lager and eggs.

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The death match started with Christina Rossetti vs Robert Burns, and Mark Grist delivered a touching tribute to a girl he attempted to woo at church and Mixy told us a tale from his show in Edinburgh Fringe about his “wee bonnie Scott.”

This was followed by Sylvia Plath vs. Ted Hughes which was always going to be suitably dark and delivered some low blows. The pair managed to balance the life and work of each poet beautifully – both giving tribute and acknowledging the loss and pain of the couples’ lives. Mixy performed a very honest rap about depression that was raw and insightful.

The night ended on a high note with Lord Byron vs Gil Scott Heron. Unable to relate to the bachelors antics of Byron, Grist’s ode to his pug was clever and funny whilst telling the audience to never let anyone’s opinions make you feel less than you are. Mixy honored his hip hop roots with a tribute to Gil Scott Heron and won the death match, leaving Grist to an eggy pint.

Dead Poets Death Match was a brilliant show and really showcased both performers amazing talents. Mixy’s natural rhythm and grounded style coupled with his freestyle abilities are awesome to watch. Mark Grist is eloquent and witty and his passion for words is inspiring. The seamless word flow between the pair blends comedy, music and lyrics and makes for a unique poetry show.

Words by Nikki Marrone.

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