Camden Fringe 2023: Poems on Gender at Etcetera Theatre
The Etcetera Theatre is a black box tucked away in the upstairs space of a pub on Camden High Street. Upon entering for Poems on Gender, the only prop is a microphone set in a stand – yet even this proves extraneous for David Lee Morgan as he recites his words from memory.
Only 45 minutes long, Poems on Gender is a quick-fire round of 12 poems delivered with punch. The sparseness of the space is ideal, as it allows Morgan’s words to shine through with nothing to distract: the imagery is vivid enough on its own, often grotesque and physical, such as when he describes nails struggling to push all the way through bodies.
As promised by the show’s title, the majority of the poems centre around gender, speaking to the impossibility of defining it and how ideas surrounding the concept are changing. However, within this context, Morgan’s poems also delve into a variety of other pressing contemporary issues, all of which work together to condemn the destructive forces of capitalism. Particularly powerful is a piece on prisons and what they reveal about the cracks in society.
Morgan does not take any breaks; he introduces each new work by number, following nearly imperceptible pauses. Despite its short runtime, the non-stop nature and grave themes of the poems make for an intense performance. The opinions expressed are likely to be controversial – as questions of gender often are – however, David Lee Morgan makes it clear in the 20-minute Q&A following the performance that he welcomes disagreement, and in fact encourages it.
When asked what inspired him to write on the subject, the poet answers that he is particularly interested in topics that divide generally likeminded circles. For example, instead of focusing on the division between separate political parties, he delves into the spaces of disagreement between people on the same side. Poems on Gender is a deep dive into one such space, intended to encourage discussion and provoke serious thought. Only through this, he believes, will a future of peace and justice ever be achieved.
Camden Fringe 2023: Poems on Gender is at Etcetera Theatre from 6th until 6th August 2023. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.