Much like a lot of quintessentially English things, it turns out that John Hegley is, at least in part, French. He takes us on a mini tour of his family through his art work - some surreal, some cryptic and some nostalgic.
Like the renaissance man he is, Hegley can turn his hand to many different media; art, music, poetry and comedy are in equal measure throughout this hour-long performance. Audience participation and improvisation are also his bag, though staging and set design definitely aren’t. The performance space at the North Wall in Summertown with only him, his ukelele and pianist, Claire, can be somewhat spartan and when he loses his whiteboard light, he can appear a little like a lecturer at a redbrick university. Others might say it was to let his creativity shine, unfettered by the trappings of props or illustrious sets; and basically, Hegley is still true to his art form and his use of the spoken word is at times brilliant. I really like when he finds a Nicholas of about 11 years old in the audience and manages to make his name rhyme with ‘Icarus’ who he has drawn with Dedalus.
My eight-year-old daughter didn’t want a book, which I regretted, as book signings are the bread and butter of poets (and writers) and Hegley deserves to have his book bought. She wrote: 'I liked the quantity of the funny poetry. And also, his serious face when people laughed, it was very funny'. This Larry David-like ability to keep a straight face while making his audience laugh is very endearing. As is so much of his art, music, and poetry.