Matt Harvey – Wondermentalist

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Many years ago I remember, when in Paris, going to see a new movie called Silence of the Lambs. We had no idea what the film was about, it was the only one not dubbed into french so in we went. I came out shocked and surprised. Sometimes it’s great not knowing what you are going to see, you have no expectations and are therefore not disappointed. Although Matt Harvey ate no human flesh, I was also pleasantly surprised and shocked that the Beehive in Honiton could secure such a talent and present him in a comfortable and intimate manner. Some of us sat within spitting distance of him (fortunately no one tried out the spitting) in cabaret style seating and some in the raked seating. Tables adorned with cloths and a vase of wild flowers gave a lovely personal ‘village hall’ feel and the amply stocked bar supplied us with drinks to jolly us along.

We didn’t need the drinks; Matt Harvey was funny from the word go (although he never did say go). You see titles can be deceptive. Silence of the Lambs was very noisy in parts and never featured a tasty young sheep once. Matt was billed as a Performance Poet. Yawn. But poetry isn’t all hosts of golden daffs and meaningless gibberish, Matt’s was witty, clever and very, very funny. His verse linked with tales of how he wrote or was commissioned to write each one, which were delivered in a marvelously cheeky ‘stand up comic’ way that had us crying with laughter. His view of his home town of Totnes was well observed and hysterical. He asked us what phase the moon was in. He received no reply, we did not know. “Oh” he said, “I feel a long way from Totnes”.

The intimacy was compounded when we the audience were invited to write a poem, each to pen a line and a willing volunteer (eh hem my good-self) to arrange them into a verse. The subject was aptly for the Beehive a Bumble bee. The resulting poem, read by Matt after the interval, was funny and surprisingly good. I hope the resulting piece was retained to be shown in the Beehive, a glorious asset for our community.

So the upshot? Take a chance and go see something you didn’t think you’d like or know nothing about, you too may be surprised.

Tim Woolgar