‘Keep thy friend under thy own life’s key’ Act I, Scene I, All’s Well That Ends Well
‘Bristol Bristol, the place of dreams, the place of possibilities, the place of creative aspiration, culture, calmness, and its own seductive music’
Advertised as ‘a funny sharp, lyrical exploration of the highs & lows of friendship, writing and the forces that drive creativity’, Curry Goat and Fish Fingers delivers a night of witty musings, heartfelt memories and truly stunning spoken word. In a single hour, the charming duo of Miles Chambers (former Bristol poet laureate) and Edson Burton cover the issues of race, politics, religion, immigration, mental health, police brutality and nationality. Reflecting on their lives and experiences, these Bristol poets delve into what it means to be Black and British through a series of short-but-sharp vignettes.
Located in the new Weston studio in the freshly renovated Bristol Old Vic theatre, Curry Goat and Fish Fingers kicks off the Seeds of Change week, showcasing Black experiences and empowerment in celebration of Black History Month. Upon entering the studio, the audience is met with an empty set lit with a gentle pink light. The exposed brick and simple black curtain give away no clues for what is about to come. The thrust-out stage gives the studio a cosy and intimate feeling, especially as the audience needs to cross it to reach their seats. However, without apparent effort Miles and Edson fill the stage with their combination of spoken word, song, monologue and even some (questionable) dance.
A stand-out feature for me was the combination of personal and political anecdotes which transform this hour-long dialogue into a commentary on the human identity. Chambers launches into a seemingly harmless story about a man who dreams of becoming a bus driver. However, upon arriving at his interview, he is immediately turned away for being black. This snowballs into contemplation on the Bristol Bus Boycott and the injustices that racism continues to create. These moments of truth are made even more poignant by the extended periods of silence between scenes, allowing you to absorb every scrap of poetic revelation.
Whilst the style is at times a little fragmented, Chambers and Burton quickly snap the audience back into focus with another witty commentary or comic skit. In describing their version of a Bristol with a place for anyone and everyone, they have created a performance which explores a uniquely Black-British experience in words that everyone can understand. As a white female non-Brit, I was transported into their own world for an hour, witness to their organic energy and impassioned anger.