A Review of Being Human by Antony Owen

When booking my ticket for Being Human I made a decision that I would not look at any reviews so that my perception of it would not be pre determined or influenced.

Being Human has a perfectly apt title, it is performed by three actors each covering the multitudes of life experiences in two parts which last over just 90 minutes. The time passes quickly yet leaves you feeling you have witnessed something epic on a human level. This is not 3 actors reading poem after poem and its greatest achievement is changing the perceptions of people who deem or stigmatise poetry as something exclusive to intellectuals in corduroy drinking crème de menthe in oak veneered rooms congratulating each other on their cleverness.

The effectiveness of Being Human is that it has a beginning, a middle an end, strong protagonists you care about, and most importantly the poems are connected to a narrative making them accessible and tangible.

Poetry is merely the stealth component of the play, it hides in the intimate colloquialisms of the subjects covered, love,loss,old age, happiness,parenthood, abandonment,identity and many more. It is these subjects that become the props, there is no orchestra, no special effects or pyrotechnics just beautiful and dramatic language delivered by three competent actors (messengers) who are clearly connected to the language, themselves and the audience. The subjects covered serve as a mirror where we can see a part of ourselves in all or some of the experiences covered.

All of us at times feel complex and at some point find it hard to articulate ourselves, Being Human offers a life thesaurus of perspective, it suggests not tells, it talks to you not at you and importantly it yarns the fabric of human nature into our naked and native selves; vulnerable, flawed, gifted, worth celebrating, it validates the very best and worst of ourselves.

The three actors consummately engaged with the audience and were very earnest. One lady watching summed it up by saying ‘It helped me understand the poetry so much that I decided to buy a copy and get that head start’. Being Human evolves poetry, the play adds dimensions a book or kindle cannot do. It serves up poetry as a common genre, co existing outside the niche of it just belonging to poets. Intended or not this makes Being Human a revelation that should be supported, celebrated and sustained.

The only one one minor criticism was the war section covered. In these violent times I understand that we are bombarded with news on conflict and loss but I felt that the light hearted slant to this of wars usefulness missed the mark offering something shallow to say about something that has so much depth.

In conclusion, I would highly recommend this play to anyone and commend the production for its impact and inspirational values that transcend poetry back to where it belongs – to ALL of us.

Antony Owen, Coventry, June 2012

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