Poetry Boyband Remastered

Aisle 16
Unity Theatre, 3rd March 2006

Reviewed by Adam Ford

Ok then, what have we here? Suits of Westlife white? Check. Stools? Check. Focus group physiques? Erm…not quite. Empty, clichéd and coldly calculated lyrics about love? Nope. Hang on then, I’m puzzled. In what way exactly are Aisle 16 a boyband? Well, they are all male and they do poetry, although their style is more like rap actually. Oh well, whatever.

They might be confused and unfocused, but the ‘boys’ have invented the verb to ‘hoon’ – or to viciously kill, as former ‘Defence’ Secretary Geoff Hoon was so fond of doing. So they get a few marks there, although it should probably be to ‘reid’ now, which is even more perplexing.

Taking the form of a spoof school lecture given to twelve-year-old schoolgirls – who should presumably be screaming as if they are about to be hooned – Poetry Boyband Remastered is the latest tour from Aisle 16. They mix pep talks on the traditions and techniques of poetry – such as ‘How To Become A Tortured Soul In 5 Easy Stages’ - with well-crafted and occasionally funny compositions such as ‘Embrace The Wank’ and ‘Britain’s First Paedophile Prime Minister’. Not exactly the kind of poetry we got in school when I was twelve, though possibly the first one would have been appropriate.

The flow and rhythm was excellent, but the themes themselves were often nothing more than long-winded attempts to get cheap laughs through puns. For example, their slogan is ‘make poetry history’, which is quite amusing because it is only two letters away from Saint Bob of Geldof’s not very well thought-out ‘make poverty history’ campaign. But so what? Are they actually trying to make poetry history? No, they’re trying to make it accessible to a new audience (though inevitably most people in this audience seemed quite well-versed). Even more preposterous was a five minute ‘rap battle’ between long-dead psychotherapists Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, which was apparently only there to provide the basis for a weak ‘muthafucka’ gag about Freud’s theory of the Oedipus complex.

Overall though, this was a far from terrible show, and certainly less horrible than a Westlife concert would be. I left with the feeling that the individual members of Aisle 16 have a lot of talent, but perhaps after six years together the time has come for ‘poetical differences’ and solo projects.

Printer friendly page