Broadcast Bar
Until 02 Mar 2019

Review by Paige Mulholland

Presented at the 2019 Adelaide Fringe Festival

The description on the Adelaide Fringe website for this show reads “If poetry has a punk scene, you'll find it here.”, and this is an as apt a description as there ever was. From start times to the fourth wall to society’s preconceptions of what a poet looks like or even what poetry is, Paroxysm Press is determined to break the rules. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s a hell of a ride.

Due to the rotating nature of the performers in this show, this review should be taken with a grain of salt; none of the performers from the show reviewed on 23 February will be appearing in the last remaining show on 2 March. But the loose, experimental vibe of the show seems like it’s here to stay.

After a 20-minute delay, the show began with the MC, Kerryn, explaining the format for the night; each poet will spend 10 minutes on stage, and can perform as many poems (or, in one case, short films) as they’d like to during that time. The six performers were hugely varied in age, gender, background, demeanour and entertainment factor. From traditional slam poetry to quasi-rap and character-driven monologues, each performer was determinedly unique. The most surprising of the lot (although probably also most controversial) were the two short films that were screened, featuring a naked woman flailing through West Terrace Cemetery sporting a set of vagina teeth, and what the filmmaker dubbed “puppet porn”, which probably necessitates no further explanation.

Even with the 20-minute delay in starting, the show finished 10 minutes early, which begs the question of why you would list a show’s duration as 90 minutes when you’re planning all along to feature six performers for 10 minutes each.

If you’re into slam poetry, and looking to expand your experience, “Paroxysm Press – The Showcase Series” is a great place to start. It’s easy to think of slam poetry as something performed by privileged white university students with Arts degrees and angst out the wazoo, and this show sheds that stereotype entirely, proving that poetry is for everyone. Vagina teeth, however, are still pretty divisive.

Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5)