Rogue Teacher @ The Roundhouse Review

“For about half of you here, those that have never been to a poetry show, you might totally hate this!” Mark Grist‘s hilarious tale of how an eager English Teacher became, and dealt with becoming, a Youtube sensation, world famous battle rapper and the poet laureate of Peterborough. As he eagerly tells the story, he weaves in the poetry and raps, sometimes apologetically but always amusingly.

Mark Grist

The first half details the journey from first arriving in Peterborough to winning his first few rap battles. He strangely decides to warn the audience about the second half being more dramatic just before the break. As he puts it: „This is the story of an English Teacher who became pseudo famous on the internet for rapping about a seventeen-year-old‘s, mother‘s vagina.  Is that alright?“. Indeed Mark, is that alright?

The energy of show comes from Mark‘s acknowledgement and joy in the ridiculousness of his journey. The fact that the UK‘s highest viewed battle-rapper is a poet/English Teacher is just funny. However he would never have made it this far if his poetry and delivery weren’t outstanding.

Often sweet, always funny and sprinkled with just enough awkwardness to make it relatable. The poems form the heart and structure of this entertaining tale. He also sprinkles it with the low points of his journey, but resists letting dark moments get in the way of having a lot of fun.

The nature of poetry is discussed, as he complains about having to write short, unrhyming verses for an MA while really just wanting to make people laugh. The reason for us wanting to rhyme at all get discussed and more difficult forms are explored. Rigid English-Teachers that think that there is a “right” way of reading poems get ripped apart, in a outpouring of poetic rage.

Mark‘s thoughts on education deserve acknowledgement. The reason he goes on the journey is that he cared enough  about students to promise that he‘d enter a rap battle if they‘d behave for a term. He slams into those within education that have unhealthy ideas about what an education is, while acknowledging that causing his rap battle antics haven‘t always meshed with his ideals as an educator.

He ends the show on his best known work  “Girls who read” and you get the distinct impression that he is far prouder of that than he is of his battle rapping. The show is joyous, funny and full of life, the perfect antidote for anyone that think poetry is just a boring school matter. 4/5

Review written by Ingimar Sverrisson.

Mark Grist‘s Rogue Teacher is currently on tour, however has just one night left in Norwich. For more information on the production, visit here…

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