Tuesday, January 29, 2013

London Cringe, 24th January

The concept is simple and brilliant. People far too generous with their humiliation get on stage and read from their teenage diaries. Or, failing a diary, a poem  from those days when everything was all-too naively from the heart would also do.

It's a hugely popular night, taking place upstairs at The George on the Strand. I got there at 6:30 in order to grab some seats and by 7 if there were a few of you, you'd be struggling to get somewhere to sit together. By the time it started, people were crammed in everywhere even standing somewhat outside the room and peeking in!

And you could see why. It's really up to the reader how much or how little they read and it rather depends on their diary-writing style. The first person to read was the organiser/hostess who treated us to several entries from her "slaggy period" when she was kissing more than one boy, maybe even more than two while simultaneously being in love with several others. Though it's called London Cringe, most of the cringing, it has to be said, is done by the poor fool who is brave enough to share their entires - the rest of the audience mainly falls about with laughter.

Next up was a man who pretty much read us his entire diary for one year. Being male, they were all typically brief and often practical - he made sure to document not only temperatures but the more important world events, juxtaposing them with the even more important events in his personal life, such as what he had for tea. 

We heard about one girl's fashion disasters - after burning a hole in your dress with your iron, no one would make the mistake of doing the same thing with her back up dress would they? Would they? Yes. 

And would you read from a diary in which you ended every entry with "I love Duran Duran"? Except for when, of course, you put it at the beginning of the entry so you don't forget. And then confess to rummaging in your "Duran Duran drawer"? Oh yes, we had an uberfan here. 

One volunteer treated us to her three-part epic poem on the evil seductiveness of drugs, disguised under the analogy of a fairground ride. This was gritty, urban stuff - clearly the work of someone who had lived through it all, could have come from the mean streets of The Wire. Oh the children, the poor, dying children that drugs had under their spell! Which of course meant she came from some quiet country town near Somerset (or similar). Special kudos to this "performer" who, like us, was so struck by the hilarious seriousness of her poem, she could barely recite it through her laughter, but she somehow made it through to the end. 

People are encouraged to sign up in advance to share their teenage worlds, but you can also come along on the night with your diary and let Ana, the host, know you want to get up on stage. In fact, most of the people who read that night were volunteers, as several people were stymied by the snow. 

What all of the excerpts we heard had in common were an innocent earnestness and frankness, which was utterly addictive. I can see why it is so popular. Everyone would love to read another person's diary, get a sneaky look into their lives, but with this event, you can do just that and spare yourself the guilt! 

The next on is March 27th and I can't wait. 

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