Presented by Apples and Snakes
By Ben Mellor and Dan Steele
Where: Live Theatre’s Studio Theatre
When: Thursday 8 May, 8pm
Review by Stu Nimmo (Guest Blogger)
An evening of poetry for my final Live Blog, a show inspired by the body, its parts, their functions, vaginas and the knob.
Anthopoetry is a music and poetry show inspired by Anthropometry – the measurement and comparison of body parts – a science used egregiously (through the pseudo-science of Phrenology) in attempts to validate racist theories of white supremacy in the 19th century.
Ben Mellor is of course not a 19th century white supremacist, quite the opposite; he’s a 21st century poet with a social conscience, and a good one too (a good poet that is…and a good social conscience too…which begs the question, what would a bad social conscience be? Raging against fairness in the system presumably).
Ben started working the audience before the stage performance began; he wandered among us delivering anthropometric facts hither and thither, cutting the figure of an eccentric, self-consciously joking Doctor in his white coat with stethoscope draped professionally around his neck. He was of course warming us up, breaking the ice between performer and punter, building up a rapport. It worked, when his on stage performance began – we’d already warmed to this guy, he’s nice, cheerful, and full of strange facts about the body. He has a beard too, so he must be cool.
Unfortunately for my rabidly anti-beard prejudice, he was cool; full of self-depreciating humour, wonderful word play, imagery and ideas. But I see this as a minor blip in my beard studies; I have recently completed a series of beard measurements which prove beyond reasonable doubt the supremacy of the clean shaven gentleman…
Ben began with a brief introduction to Anthopoetry and its Anthropometric inspiration, which included an overview of modern uses of Anthropometry (industrial design, clothing design, ergonomics, architecture etc) and an opening masterpiece of pun-manship festooned with body parts to get us in the mood. He introduced musician, technician and walking body part illustration device, Dan Steele too, whose music never overpowered Ben’s words, always remaining a suitable companion.
Ben’s poems covered various parts of the body, using their function as the spark for his ideas and imagery, so the Head becomes a poem about the mind, about its power and its weakness, analogies with politics and government of all shades screwing over the poor, ultimately a poem, my notes say, about rebellion.
His take on the respiratory system underlines the fragility of life and the inter-connectedness of everything in the universe, whilst the heart inevitably takes us to a poem about love, but love in a dystopian future where everything is freely available and can be synthesized – apart from love, which is running out. So love becomes a finite resource – a commodity, big business tries to control it, sell it, until it is exhausted and a bleak world without love results.
Ben moves through to the glangular system where he milks the mammary glands for the politics of page three speech boxes, he edges on to the nervous system to inflict Lady Pain and follows through with the digestive system to feed us the pasty tax and eating/politics metaphors before venting his spleen to relate the battle between infuriating trivia and infuriating matters of significance, thrusting onwards he gives us the reproductive system in the shape of a poem inspired by war poet Henry Reed and research carried out by Deborah Cameron into how many different names men and women use for female and male genitalia, he ends with our measurement of ourselves and the duality of our insignificance in the Universe versus the enormous significance of ourselves to our friends and family.
Ben uses the body and Anthropometry as inspiration and a jumping off point to talk about a broad range of political and cultural bug bears, dilemmas and observations. He uses the body, its terminology and its functions as metaphors to decorate, underline and enthral.
An entertaining evening and a thoroughly nice chap too.
My final blog is complete, I now have to return to the cellar, I don’t know when or even if I’ll be allowed out again?