[2011055] For Whom the Bell Tolls

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Telia Nevile @ The Tuxedo Cat – Blue Room

6:15pm, Thu 24 Feb 2011

After having experienced a snippet of Poet Laureate Telia Nevile during an earlier Santoni Caberoni show, I was very much looking forward to seeing the rest of her show; and as Nevile springs onto the stage, school uniform neatly pressed and schoolbag in tow, her face flickers between the intensity of the misunderstood poet and the delight of naive youth.

As our poet protagonist recounts her trials and tribulations through high school, we’re introduced to a cast of stereotyped characters: the jocks that jostle, the stoners that inadvertently accept, the best friend’s Mum who runs the sanctuary of the tuck shop. But the storyline, delivered with knowing faux-innocence, only facilitates the true hook of For Whom the Bell Tolls: and that is Nevile’s poetry.

In truth, her rhythm stutters and splutters all over the place… but it’s still brilliant fun, and wonderfully entertaining. For every snippet that feels too sweetly twee, there’s something like the brutalising The Darkness Inside to redress the balance; Telia’s ode to sport (or her aversion thereof) is really clever, and her closing (graduation) rap is a genius full-stop on proceedings.

Nevile’s schoolgirl charm remains utterly convincing, with well-weighted shifts in intensity as she transforms between the heroic poet (with powerful stares burning into the audience) and the oddball outsider. Lou Sanz’s direction is faultless throughout, keeping the pace of delivery up and maintaining interest from start to finish. In short: I loved it.

As we leave the venue, Telia is hovering (in character) to thank people for coming; as she slyly pressed a “secret” note (the programme) into my hand, she softly cooed “how nice was it to have you sitting in the front row?” while flashing a shy grin, eyes lowered but peeking up, sparkling.

Consider me smitten :)

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