Pete (The Temp) Vs Climate Change at Brighton Fringe 2011

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

Global warming’s a tough nut to tackle without being preachy; making it funny is an extra challenge.

Performance poet Pete The Temp doesn’t quite avoid those twin pitfalls, but that doesn’t stop his show from being an entertaining dash though a serious subject, driven by the energy and passion of his performance, his infallible sense of rhythm, and his astute commentary.

He makes it clear this is a spoken word piece, which takes some of the heat off to be constantly funny, despite its listing in the comedy section of the festival programme. Indeed, he allows some of his pieces to have a poignant feel.

Rather than follow a strong theme, this is very much an anthology of segments on subjects intrinsically linked to climate change, even if they are not directly about the topic itself. As well as being a veteran of the Copenhagen summit and the climate camp protest outside the RBS headquarters in Edinburgh, Pete’s an anti-capitalist campaigner who discusses the evil of the global food industry, the impotence of armchair activists, and the inadequacy of charities, largely funded by the poor, as part of his agenda.

He mixes styles as well as subjects, sometimes a cappella, sometimes backed by techno tracks or sometimes his own guitar, and he gives each poem a different cadence and pace. The lyrics are frequently underpinned with a cheeky wit, while his enthusiasm encourages unselfconscious audience participation.

Some of the more sketch-like elements, such as the spoof news report, fall on stonier ground, and he does sometimes get too earnest with the already on-side audience. But they he will check himself, for example with the exaggeratedly desperate rant Hello?!, which calls to mind Basil Fawlty at his most exasperated.

Explicitly political, with fire in his belly, expert performance skills and a keen sense of mischief, he’s poetry’s answer to Mark Thomas, able to make the depressing enjoyable.

Review date: 27 May 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Brighton Komedia

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