Spoken Word Review: Tall Tales @ Peckham Literary Festival

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 85 months ago
Spoken Word Review: Tall Tales @ Peckham Literary Festival
The Tall Tales team L-R: Hannah Jones, James Casey, Robert Hudson, Susannah Pearse, Benet Brandreth, John Finnemore, Mike Westcott
The Tall Tales team L-R: Hannah Jones, James Casey, Robert Hudson, Susannah Pearse, Benet Brandreth, John Finnemore, Mike Westcott
John Finnemore performs with Susannah Pearse and James Casey

It's November. It's cold. What you really want is to be sitting on a Persian carpet, hot tea snug in your hands, being told funny stories, right?

The Tall Tales team perform every two months in Kilburn, but the Peckham Literary Festival tempted them across the river to Persepolis. Put together and hosted by author Robert Hudson, a crew of semi-regulars spin improbable yarns, perform in character or describe fantastic adventures.

First up, our host chats to us about a friend whose spy work has taken a back seat to his pub quiz team, followed by Hannah Jones's lament over the relationship she never had with a man who didn't move into the flat downstairs. To end the first half, Susannah Pearse and James Casey sing about Unsung Heroes - comedy writer John Finnemore breaks in as a self-important Nobel prize winner, his pompousness swiftly undercut when the singers sweetly reveal the truth behind his win.

The second half begins with the recently discovered correspondence between Napoleon's horse, Marengo, and Wellington's steed, Copenhagen. Careful translation by Robert Hudson and novelist Marie Phillips revealed a passionate relationship despite the problems of distance and opposing warring nations; subsequent finds have become a regular feature and audience favourite at Tall Tales - justifiably so. And whoever had the idea of John Finnemore performing Copenhagen as an eager-but-dim English public schoolboy deserves a sugar lump for their genius.

Mike Westcott recites the Wikipedia entry for a dubious 17th century executioner, complete with bitchy editorial judgements, as Benet Brandreth supplies 'quotes' from Samuel Pepys. John Finnemore then returns for a stamina-bursting third appearance of the night, relaying a not-quite-ghost story in the voices of the many people who were involved. We laughed so hard we nearly had a major back spasm. Finally, Benet Brandreth rounds off the night with a rousing and wry tale of near Hollywood stardom, encounters with Bruce Willis and the importance of friendship.

Tall Tales is a night that refuses to take itself seriously and sparkles with wit and fun. We heartily recommend getting down to the Good Ship tomorrow evening to catch the last performance of the year, else you'll be kicking yourself without need of a War Horse.

Tall Tales is on at the Good Ship in Kilburn, the last Thursday of every second month. Next performance is Thursday 25th November, 8pm, £5. The Peckham Literary Festival runs until this Friday, all events are free.

Benet Brandreth's one man show is on at the Canal Cafe Theatre, 7th / 8th December 9.30pm, £5, and Hen and Chickens Theatre, 16th December 7.30pm, £6.50. John Finnemore and Susannah Pearse's musical, The Diary of a Nobody, is on at The Drill Hall. Tickets are still available for Sunday 5th December 4pm, £15.

Last Updated 24 November 2010