[THEATRE/Poetry ~ SA]
Studio 166, Goodwood Theatre and Studios, Sat 18 Sept.
Goodwood Theatres is taking the initiative of presenting performance and art now that we’re slowly starting to ease up on the COVID restrictions. The performances of SIARAD (Welsh – Sha-rad, a verb ‘to speak’) are part of a cluster of performances they are calling the Comeback Festival. SIARAD is a one-person theatre piece featuring a (mainly one way) dialogue with the audience and a sprinkling of poetry. The set has a bare desk with an old school suitcase next to it and the show begins with Caroline Reid chatting to us as she sets up her desk for some writing. Also on the stage are a mic and stand and a spot to stand to deliver spoken word poems, which happens regularly throughout the show.
When reading the information about the show – how Caroline has won poetry slams to the point of twice representing SA in the National Slam at the Opera House – I was expecting a more upbeat and riotous version of poetry and presentation. However, SIARAD is a more subdued and subtle exploration of life around writing, caring for a mother with dementia and an exploration of a couple of her lines:
“Most days / I am not a poet, most days / I am lost in the spaces between poems.”
In some ways it is a theatrical and poetic version of memoir.
In many ways this is a quite intimate performance, somewhat reflected in Caroline’s entry into the performance space (you’ll have to see it to understand). The intimacy of words and thoughts is really laid bare in the discussions of life events such as migration to Australia, caring for a mother with dementia and life and love. Caroline has strong theatre background – which clearly shows in the way this piece has been developed and presented. And just to be clear, while there is plenty of access to the inner workings of Caroline’s thinking (and it’s the person more than the poet), this is no shrinking violet on the stage. SIARAD has a particular object in mind and the play is well focused, even if multiply focused and tightly written. In performance terms Caroline oscillates between prowling the stage to standing and delivering, touching all aspects in between, doing a great job of delivery. Lighting, effects and audio sprinklings all add to the show.
Then there’s the encore (something that doesn’t quite fit the realms of usual theatre) where we get more of a glimpse into Caroline the award winning Slam Poet, a touching, colourful performance piece on love filled with an image for each and every audience member which reinforces the colour of the language used in both the poems and the dialogue that we’ve experienced in the show itself. A modest, but attentive and appreciative audience was quite responsive to Caroline’s performance.