Spoken word review: Loki, the Scottish Rapper: Poverty Safari Live, The Stand’s New Town Theatre

Darren 'Loki' McGarvey. Picture: John Devlin
Darren 'Loki' McGarvey. Picture: John Devlin
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Loki, the Scottish rapper (as opposed to Loki, the Norse god of devilment?), aka absorbing, thoughtful Scotsman columnist Darren McGarvey, has seen his stock rise considerably since the publication of his acclaimed book Poverty Safari – alongside a corresponding spike in the number of people who want to have a go at him on social media…

Loki, the Scottish Rapper: Poverty Safari Live, The Stand’s New Town Theatre (Venue 7) ***

Which may be why he constantly feels the need to explain himself during this staccato suite of rap, poetry and spoken word.

McGarvey writes about what he knows but not, he is at pains to point out, directly about himself. Poverty Safari Live follows a young working class male whose “jacket hangs on a shaky nail” as he makes an expedition to Glasgow’s leafy west end where “everyone cycles even though they own two cars” and then the darkly comic contrast when he returns to his side of the tracks, a snapshot of resolutely non-magical realism.

• READ MORE: Edinburgh Fringe 2018: 10 theatre shows you must see

Along the way, McGarvey makes measured mincemeat of social (im)mobility and identity politics and earns a round of applause for a sober examination of a fearful and abusive childhood but might have packed more power into his hour if he spent less time second-guessing what the audience understands or seeking to justify his choice of language in case he offends.

• Until 26 August, 5pm