Writer: Matt Abbott
Reviewer: Rich Jevons
Matt Abbott visited the ‘Jungle’ refugee camp in Calais in 2016, and subsequently campaigned for several issues including homelessness, anti-racism and the refugee crisis. He then did a full Edinburgh Fringe with his debut one-man show Two Little Ducks. The show features three key strands: the reasons behind the working-class Leave vote; his experiences at the Calais ‘Jungle’; and a fictionalised character called Maria. Matt is on a 22-date UK tour this autumn, accompanied by his debut collection on VERVE Poetry Press and also an album on N&T.
Two Little Ducks is a radical piece of theatrical poetry that looks at the disaster of Brexit from a position of personal politics. In Calais, at first, Matt found a horrific no man’s land and was full of ‘white liberal guilt’ when confronted with the appalling conditions there. He was surrounded by ‘lost souls’ and in his new poetic work invented a character he calls Maria, uncertain of whether she should stay or go.
Two Little Ducks also takes on the subject of the coal mine closures in the days of Thatcher’s brutal suppression of the working class. He ends this section of the performance with a sad RIP For Kellingley Colliery where his grandfather held a position of responsibility.
Another subject on Matt’s heart is the NHS, which he treasures for as long as it will last in these days of economic uncertainty. He looks forward to a day when the system will meet the demands and needs of its populace, including of course those that are here as migrant workers.
In a particularly poignant moment Matt wraps himself up in a Union Jack whilst talking of a ‘savage brutal empire’ and discussing the contrary aspects of nationalism – should we be proud or ashamed?
His other work includes vivid descriptions of the atrocities in the Calais ‘Jungle’ but at the same time recalls more pleasant moments when a family invite him in to share his booze and food with them. He is confronted with a Bradford City sleeping bag on the floor, coming a bit too close to home. One of his last subjects is about a lottery winner who burns her ticket to avoid the pressure of suddenly becoming super rich.
Matt really has a perfect blend of well-honed performance skills whilst naturally tackling some enormous and controversial areas. A powerful piece of theatrical poetry that will have you leaving steaming, but in a good way, to remedy this injustice.
Reviewed on 26th October 2018 | Image: Rich Jevons