EFR - Reviews of The Man Who Loved Beer

The Man Who Loved Beer

Mon 4th – Fri 22nd August 2014

reviews

Ciaran Stordy

at 23:03 on 15th Aug 2014

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This performance of spoken word by Glaswegian Kevin P. Gilday was excellent and depressing at the same time, employing defeatist humour of the “life’s crap” variety to effect this. Before revving into his repertory of poems he told us that he loved beer, that he really loved it, that he loved it as much as he loved his mother, yet what he really meant was that he loved escaping the dull reality of life. Beer was used as a euphemism for binge drinking. It was a launching pad from which to shoot into the squalor of life as observed by a cynical yet pensive poet.

Many of the topics that he addressed in his poems were profound and feelingly explored. The further he got to the end of his set the more apparent it became that he was unravelling a story of deep personal angst rouged with comedy here and there to mollify its sting. He came across as a man searching for life-meaning without conveying pretension or affectation; he was both honest and engaging.

Gilday's lyrics carried obvious craftsmanship. His words were smooth and acrobatic, twisted and twirled in the air. Gilday’s brand of spoken word closely resembled poetry – a quality surprisingly rare in the genre – but was not choked by poetic convention. He was brave enough to use different styles and articulate himself with hearty theatricality. As a result the house was able to keep with his flow instead of falling with impatience by the wayside.

A moment of sparkling political satire surfaced when he turned his sights on Scottish stereotypes and blew them to smithereens. He made irresistible explanations of popular caricatures to bring them crashing down about his audience’s heads.

It is true that Gilday takes a cynical direction with The Man Who Loved Beer but he is not himself a cynical man. No, he is a proud and melancholy thinker… though the cider in his pint glass did not pass as beer! Do not let the title of this show mislead. True beer-lovers wouldn’t even touch some of the brands he mentioned in his show.

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Isobel Cockerell

at 02:39 on 16th Aug 2014

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The Man Who Loved Beer is pretty hard to come by, and quite unique in this festival-infused place. This is a true backroom Fringe delight: something you’d never stumble across by chance and utterly unique. The premise is this: a soft-spoken, bearded Scotsman stands in a dingy, sticky room, and talks for just over an hour on the subject of…you guessed it…beer. Or ‘beeyurr’ as he says it. And he says it a lot. He literally talks about nothing else. He goes through the stages of his hangovers, of his existential, beer-related crises…but it is somehow weirdly, wonderfully enchanting.

His name is Kevin Gilday. He sips on a cold one as he talks, and from his lager-swilled mouth comes some exquisite verse. In lilting Scotch tones he lulls the audience into a strange, introspective trance.

There is passion here – passion for beer, yes, but also passion for the beauty of the spoken word, for the power of rhythm and rhyme and the human spirit. Here is a man who has been nearly ruined by the poisons and hardships of modern life. Yet he comes through it and reveals that what really brings him meaning is this very thing - in his own words, ‘standing in a half empty room performing poetry to stangers.’ Suddenly you feel part of something, part of the spiritual and alcoholic development of this everyman. And he really is an everyman: indiscernible age, height, and weight, not a particularly memorable face… but the words pouring from this distinctly average mouth are impressive, and unlike any heard before.

I have only one niggle with this show. Every time Gilday finished one of his beautifully crafted poems he would say ‘cheers’ and the audience would be obliged to clap. It's not an unusual aspect, but it doesn’t really work with the premise of the show, which was a description of the slow journey into alcoholism. Somehow the lulling, gradual narrative of the show was interrupted by this banal clapping: it just didn’t fit.

One the whole, though, this was something special, unusual. There is quiet, unusual talent burgeoning here, in this unknown corner of the Fringe – so go and witness it for yourself.

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