Jemima Foxtrot loops lines of verse, sounds and noises around and around, until they build up to an indistinguishable din. It’s the clamour in our subconscious mind, the multiple threads of stories that never get the chance to finish before new ideas, thoughts or streams of narrative invade and take over. Jokes are never finished; childhood memories are overwritten and even recognisable snippets of pop culture are left on cliff-hangers. Jemima Foxtrot’s spoken work poetry keeps us Above The Mealy-Mouthed Sea, but doesn’t often coalesce into anything more than atmospheric white noise.
As a spoken word artist, Foxtrot is dynamic and engaging, bringing pause and pace to each story with an instantly evocative tone. She constructs scenes of intricate detail as clear images in the room, only to have them washed away by the next wave that crashes onto shore. She is often soft and lilting, using folk-style melodies and verse to complement the narrative. But there isn’t enough variation in her delivery; the sea shanties and fragmented bursts are linked in their style but not their subject, leaving little to distinguish or demarcate clear sections of the performance.
Foxtrot is clever in capitalising on the confusion, bringing forth her quirky interpretation to build up an evocative mega-structure of memory. She harks back to happier childhood times and displaces herself as a guest in the chat show of her mind. The direction is lost in the din however – if the production works towards a climax, a reveal, a galvanising moment that throws the format into clarity, this may validate the choice. As it is, the crux is never quite revealed, the links to the chain never fused together. It’s as she is watching TV, flicking through the channels and never stopping to catch the end of a programme. The act of quickly switching is a clever device, but the conclusion is never realised, leaving a feeling of incompleteness inherent in the work.
Above The Mealy-Mouthed Sea is a set of clever, interweaving pieces of spoken word poetry, complete with engaging metre and intricate rhyming couplets. But as far as an overarching story goes, it’s intentionally confused but unintentionally too hard to follow as to be effective.
Above The Mealy-Mouthed Sea plays Underbelly Cowgate as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 until 27 August 2017. For more information or to book tickets, please visit the website.