Illicit Ink - Edinburgh spoken word night (3 stars)

Illicit Ink

Free spoken-word show from some of Edinburgh's newest undiscovered talents

The Bongo Club has become the home of one of Edinburgh’s freshest groups of writers, who come together to share short stories in the heart of the Cowgate. They recite pieces based on a common theme (the two most recent being school and sleep), each written specially for the occasion. And, as an egalitarian and participatory event, established professional writers rub shoulders with dedicated amateurs. Each story is well received by the packed audience.

The atmosphere is casual and relaxed, with the compères and the writers speaking with a free and easy attitude that suggests a gathering of friends more than a tense performance. The stories are witty and entertaining, generally with a dark sense of humour, but are interspersed with rawer takes, focusing on collapsing relationships and human drama. In general, whether the story is dramatic or comedic, a sense of the macabre seems to knit a lot of the performers together. The formats range from the standard prose over to dialogue and monologue meditations. The pace is brisk, and the hosts keep everything moving at a steady pace to prevent fatigue, along with plenty breaks to sneak out and hit the bar, or to rustle the sweets provided.

Some of the performances are spiced up with additional performance elements, such as sound effects and multiple performers. They may help add variety to the programme, but were a little bit hit and miss, distracting from stories that are better off standing alone. Whilst most of the stories were inventive in exploring the evening’s theme, a number of stories couldn’t seem to stay on topic; for the sleep-themed evening, insomnia seemed to be a more popular topic than actual sleep.

A night in the company of witty writers is a night well spent.

Illicit Ink

An evening of prose, spoken word and storytelling with a different them for the performers to work around each time.

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