Can poetry change the world? It is a question that has plagued scholars and excitable literature students for the longest time, and never has a true answer been forthcoming. However, after seeing Gray Crosbie’s show Amphibious, you feel like it certainly could be a possibility.
This show primarily takes on the issue of the traditional gender binaries, but also touches briefly on immigration and climate change. It is split between personal stories of being gender non-binary, and a fictionalised Britain in which genderless merpeople are appearing from the sea (forced from their homes by ecological disaster). Both of these work wonderfully, featuring some beautifully poignant moments.
A personal highlight for your reviewer was a piece about attempting to get a haircut as a non-binary person; the heartbreakingly difficult twists of what should be a simple everyday activity really bring home the issues at hand. This may have been the spoken-word moment of the festival. On the other hand, the merfolk storyline is a wonderful analogy, taking in wonderful little details (even if the thought of surgery to turn a tail into legs is a body horror premise that I never knew would haunt my dreams as much as it has), and feels like a children’s fairytale or bedtime story gone dark. This is exactly the narrative that needs to be heard in this day and age.
There are some teething issues with the show, the transitions between the two sections are occasionally slightly lumpy, and can muddle each other a bit. However these are minor concerns, understandable in a debut hour from a relatively new voice in the Scottish spoken word scene, and surely will be ironed out with time. As it stands, this is a hugely promising first solo show from an equally exciting and promising unique voice in Scottish poetry.