Edinburgh Festivals Magazine

Poets’ Corner

Just the Tonic @ The Caves
8-23 August (ex. 18) 13.40

An (oddly) handsome Oscar Wilde and a girl-crazy, self-quoting Lord Byron sip wine and behave like busy-bodied mortals inside Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey, discussing other dead colleagues and their possible appearance at the anticipated annual party held at the Abbey.

Past parties apparently have resulted in Keats’ embarrassing champagne incident, Shakespeare is repeatedly declared a twat and Wordsworth, too, is shunned.  Tonight, Blake arrives frustrated at his choice in apparel, Chaucer pops out for a fag and Dickens laments over his post-mortal influence in the literary world. A surprise guest, Jane Gathering, arrives confused and her reasons for being there (is she dead or alive? is she an important writer?) are explored, as is the notion of being remembered via an inscription in Poets’ Corner or else being completely forgotten. A creepy professor reminds that creative writing courses are bollocks, for neither creativity nor writing can be taught or learned, and Jane struggles to accept this for herself.

Although the dark underlying issue of death is always at hand,  James Huntrods’ Poets’ Corner is nonetheless full of wit and charm and is an endearing, convincing and engaging production, especially for anyone whose passions lie in writing or literature.  Particularly worth it if you fancy yourself a dead war poet or a Brontë in attendance, this is a humorous and intelligent way to spend a swiftly passing hour.