Jo Caulfield presents... The Speakeasy - Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh, Tue 9 Apr 2013 (4 stars)

Jo Caulfield presents... The Speakeasy - Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh, Tue 9 Apr 2013

This spoken word/comedy evening presents a more easy-going, relaxed alternative to stand-up shows

‘They don’t like this kind of thing on a Friday night at Jongleurs.’ It’s a statement that could apply to just about every act on The Speakeasy bill, but it’s spoken by Andrew Learmonth, a comedian who has just revealed the story of his prematurely-born son who lived for less than a week. Learmonth has been trying to air this traumatic moment of his life in public for four years, but the time and the place have never been quite right. The erudite and encouraging atmosphere of The Speakeasy is the perfect home for such confessional and deeply moving material.

Erudite might not be the most appropriate word to describe Fiona Herbert’s soggy dog story of an over-full bladder playing havoc in a festival tent or Grant Stott’s musings on how tough it is to be a woman (based on his experience of dragging it up during the panto season). Or even host Jo Caulfield’s ‘debacle’ of a mini-play which relocates ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ to Edinburgh.

But surely more in the erudite vein would be the only professor on the bill? Except, that prof is Richard Wiseman, the former magician who has made a name for himself with books on the paranormal (he generally errs on the side of scepticism), self-help guides (he’s not in favour) and luck (there are psychology principles behind being flukey). Here, he produces some impressive maths grids, shows us the simple technique behind what looked an amazing bout of mass mind-reading and displays a self-deprecatory streak that is eminently appealing.

Edinburgh-based New York musician Lach delivered a memorable tale of childhood manipulation and a Monkees-like song while Irish actress and writer Eva O’Connor proved she is one to watch with a pacy and witty segment of her play about a young Irish girl taking control when she falls pregnant. The whole shebang is managed with seeming ease by host Jo Caulfield whose own story about helping police with their enquiries is a delight. An essential spot on the monthly Edinburgh spoken word calendar, you should find yourself a regular quiet corner in The Speakeasy.

The next Speakeasy is on Tue 14 May.

Jo Caulfield Presents … The Speakeasy

A relaxed evening featuring a diverse bill of artists (magicians, comedians, writers and more) telling true stories from the haunting to the hilarious live on stage, giving some unexpected insights into their worlds.