Sorry to disappoint you musos out there- I’m not going to discuss the merits of melody over harmony or rhythm or anything else intellectual on the music front.
However it was well worth a round trip of nearly eight hours to see Jemima Foxtrot, the award winning performance poet in action at Omnibus, an arts centre converted from the former library at Clapham Common. You wonder whether it really is worth it for less than an hour’s performance, but, wow, what a performance!
This is going to be one of those Tristram Shandy like reviews. Just warning. I’d never been to Clapham Common before. I’ve missed out. A fabulous variety of architecture, most of which I didn’t have time to photograph, a real feel of a village in the city and enough trendy shops including a nice looking book shop to keep anyone with my book addiction well supplied. Personally I’m always happy to see an Oliver Bonas (I do lust after those eclectic chests of drawers in stock at the moment. Maybe I just need to get round to tarting up an old set myself!)
Omnibus as a building has a good vibe about it. I loved the exhibition of fabricated paintings by Ruth Dupre hanging on the wall of the bar- very friendly bar staff, good atmosphere and the cakes looked good. Self control. Unusual, I know. And in fact everyone working there seemed so welcoming. It seemed a shame I had to rush off afterwards as it would have been good to have a chat with them. There’s a literary festival coming up, at the beginning of May, and if you are in the vicinity , it would be worth checking out.
Back to Jemima. She has a slightly gauche naive quality, especially at the beginning of the show, which traps you like a sundew’s sticky globules, you get drawn in to seemingly innocence- and then she plays with you, a cat with a mouse, for nearly an hour. She seamlessly moves from childhood memories, to lost love, to family and friends, holidays and places she’s visited, and running through, like a golden thread, is music. She leaps and prances, she dances and skips round the empty stage- a lonely wooden chair being the only prop, (apart from some cleverly disguised unread lines of text)- sings snippets of song from soul to pop, funk to folk song, the thread binding it all together with her boundless energy, excellent sense of timing and pace and amazing memory, of which I am incredibly jealous.
The audience laughed and held its breath in turn. We were taken on a journey through memory, along the road back home to the red painted peeling front door. It felt sometimes as if we were invited into her mind, her memory, inside her head. It was a slightly uncomfortable feeling, but not because of any fault in performance- just because it felt personal, intimate and exposed.
If you get a chance to see her elsewhere (this was a one night only performance) then take it.