Second City Poets – Verve Press

The Scottish Poetry Library is just 15 minutes walk from Cowgate. Head in the opposite direction to Grassmarket. Keep walking until the overly loud sound systems, raucous antics and general chaos subside. As you near the venue calm envelopes you. A cleansing experience amongst the general malaise of the fringe. The walk is beautiful, putting you in the perfect headspace to enjoy a performance of Playground.

The premise:

Four poets share monologues and interact with each other in a more theatrical sense to deliver their experiences. We are taken on a delicately woven path, with each story unravelling as we go. The threads take us from the Playground to early adulthood with childlike honesty and hard-hitting truths.

From the off, it is apparent that this is a carefully thought out piece. Clever use of the performance space and a very well selected opening musical motif will immediately take you back to the Playground. Despite its title, Playground is not a lightweight exercise in wordplay. The four poets commence with seemingly innocuous memories and reflections. From the backdrop of these euphoric recall moments, you find yourself winded with regular sucker punches. Very quickly, I found myself thinking about how my adult self had forgotten the pains and trials of being a child. One of the most endearing things about this piece is the subtle swing between innocence and real pain. Around the room, all were having their moments. The resonance of the difficulties portrayed was palpable.

And then there is love.

The whole room united as the poets shared their experiences of a first crush, the confusion of understanding what it all means. There are some beautifully constructed rhetorical devices in this section. Clever use of language is in abundance, as you would expect from four talented wordsmiths. There are also some hilarious lines. Playground is perfectly balanced in its emotional tone. I enjoyed time travelling back to my own experiences of first crushes and the fragile nature of love.

The show is pacey. Only the playground games felt slightly overextended, although, that particular section contained some of the most emotive and powerful reveals. Engaged with the performance throughout, I was still surprised when one of the performers delivered a line that tipped me. There was no point in trying to hide the tears.

In Edinburgh, having a show that has a limited run of performances is tough. It can be challenging to cut through the noise. Playground is one of those hidden gems of the fringe, and it deserves to be amplified by anyone who loves spoken word, theatre or verse plays. Get along to one of the performances and shout it out on your channels. It is a show that deserves to be seen.

For this incarnation of Playground, The Second City Poets were:
Hannah, Anne, Sean and Kieran.

Playground is on at the Scottish Poetry Library 6th to 9th August Inclusive