Monday, March 2, 2015

Liars League, 10th February

Liars League is a storytelling night with class and one that recognizes the perhaps awkward truth that just because you can write a kick-ass story, doesn’t mean you’re any good at reading it aloud. So Liars League teams good story writers with good story tellers to create a night of tales that is top notch. Each performer is a genuine actor, turning each short piece of fiction into almost a one-person play. Accents are adopted, actions are played out, and you are completely sucked into the narrative.

Liars League is a monthly event at The Phoenix on Tuesdays (The Phoenix fast becoming a place my Meetup group goes to regularly) and each event has a theme. Writers are invited to send in their submissions and then these are vetted by the ‘Liars’ who run the league to pick the cream of the crop and the ones that will work best for the event. They have to bear in mind that someone actually has to read these stories aloud and make them believable. So, for an example of one that didn’t make the grade – someone had written a story all about a person who could do all these amazing impressions. But that would mean the actor needed to be able to do all these impressions so regardless of how good the plot was, it wouldn’t work in Liars League. Once they have the stories, they need to match them to the actors. Any accents that feature prove a strong point to consider – they had to draft someone in especially for one of the stories we saw as they realized they didn’t have anyone who could do a Scottish accent. But more than that they just seemed to match the personas of the stories to the performers incredibly well so that you couldn’t imagine any of the other performers there doing any other story.

They have six pieces per night and an interval after the first three, plus plenty of time to chat and hang around after (when I got to talking to the compere for the night, Liam, who is a writer himself. Never a storyteller apparently although he does a bang-up job of hosting in an amusingly arch manner).

For this event we had the theme The Beautiful and the Damned (it was close to Valentine’s Day) and so we had a range of love-themed stories with many a non-happy ending. First, Selkie, the eerie tale of the disappearance of a man and his entire family – had he married a silkie and they’d all been taken out to sea?

Next we had a unique and unsettling story of this poor sap who had a tendency to fall and fall hard for people who didn't return his feelings. His tendency to pour out his emotions in poetry lead to his exploitation to create renewable energy. There's nothing like the pent-up energy of unrequited love to create a source of power!

We also had the hilarious story of Ger Sheen and the Satanists involving a literal motherf*cker and a bunch of satanists terrorising a poor sheep farmer. There was the sweet love story Gerald the Absolute Swine who finally meets his match. The rather sad Lag, about a prisoner on day release to attend a uni reunion, seeing the now-married ex he still has feelings for. And even a wizard story on the origins of Guinevere's beauty. You can watch the performances of the stories, or just read them yourself here.

And just to keep it even more interesting, at the end of the break there is a short, literary quiz. With books for prizes of course! This time they were giving out tacky YA romance novels in the main although one ‘real’ book was also a prize. This was much more informal than I expected – if you knew the answer you just had to shout out as soon as you knew it, as they read out clues to the title. So even though I figured out a couple I wasn’t brazen enough to pipe up. 

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