Theatre review: Monkey Poet’s Murder Mystery, The Banshee Labyrinth (Venue 156)

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“I MUCH more believe in poetry as a doing thing than a reading thing,” says Matt Panesh, aka Monkey Poet, possibly a little tongue-in-cheek but with an air of radical contrariness that’s accentuated by his shaggy beard and all-black wardrobe.

Monkey Poet’s Murder Mystery

The Banshee Labyrinth (Venue 156)

Star rating; * * *

He looks like the angriest camper at Glastonbury, and this short theatrical extension of his performance poetry set mixes righteous frustration and educated reason in one hyperactive, occasionally sweary, often very funny bundle.

The show is one long dream sequence, barring a bin full of broken glass being thrown at him by an irate audience member in San Francisco and an uncomfortable incident in a massage parlour.

Yet the main sketch, for it’s essentially a comedic scene drawn out to great length, is amusing, impassioned and even a little educational.

It sees Monkey Poet at a drinks reception of all poetic literature’s greats: the flirtatious Oscar Wilde; Dorothy Parker, who tells him “if you want to be a poet, you have to be fairly depraved” as he salivates over her; Gil Scott-Heron, the token African-American in poetry’s all-white canon; and Homer, who rues poetry dying “the slow death of indifference” even as Monkey Poet tells him it’s “a piece of piss”. And TS Eliot, who threw that bin in the first place.

• Until 25 August. Today 12:50pm.