Review: Fiction Burn: The Night Before Halloween

by James Ricketts

On the 30th October a crowd gathered on the upstairs floor of Bar Loco, ready for a night of ‘twisted tales and dark poetry’. There were ten minutes before the beginning of the first act and in the guests’ corner, the wildly dressed performers of the night nervously chatted amongst themselves. They appeared excited but a little anxious by the large turn out.

Emma Whitehall, the hostess of the evening, began the evening with her short tale called ‘Sucker’. With a clear playful tone, she spoke of a misguided twilight enthusiast foolishly walking into the fatal lure of a dark and handsome fellow. She provoked scoffs and chuckles from the audience and sparked the evening’s entertainment to a delightful start.

Oonah Joslin was next in line, reading out her poems in a low wavering voice. Her poem ‘A Void’ poignantly highlighted the spiritual detriment caused by modern technologies as well as the inevitability of death. One particular line that struck a chord with the audience was ‘fear is within your restlessness’. People were sure to be leaving the night a little wiser to the plight of modern consumerist culture.

Other highlights of the first half included Marie Lightman’s account of a little girl’s building up courage to cut the devil’s tail. Jenni Pascoe, the creator of the Jibba Jabba evening, managed to be haunting and humorous with her collection of poetry. As the inconvenient sounds from the live music bellowed through the floorboards from downstairs, people remained encapsulated by the performances.

In the interval a long line of people waited to buy their signed copy of Emma Whitehall’s brilliantly fashioned Kallisto’s Tales. The audience and performers drank and schmoozed amongst themselves, whilst taking grasps of free sweets from plastic pumpkins. There was a warm homely atmosphere about the place. The second half of the night would bring about more mixed emotions of joy and fear.

With ragged beards and long coats; the Tall Tails and Short Stories duo were dressed finely enough to be the envy of any respectable Tudor aristocrat. They took turns in making frantic hand jesters and rapid flicks of their tongues as they spoke. Their fables were full of mystery and tension, enough to temporarily turn listeners back into nervous children. They were applauded off with a grand booming noise. Stephen Frizzle was a rare oddity and a wicked comedian. His acts managed to correlate Nick Clegg with the phantom of the opera, much to the crowds’ amusement.

The event demonstrated an abundance of talent, most of which has gone unmentioned due to the limitations of the review’s size. The performers all demonstrated a genuine love for what they were doing and were professionals in their own right. The Fiction Burn event pulled in a diverse audience from different backgrounds and everybody seemed to be thrilled by the evening. It was a prime example of what a grass root movement in literature should be. Furthermore, Fiction Burn fulfilled the requirements to call itself a Halloween special; it was as haunting as it was engaging. With the confident success of the evening, I would call upon any story or poetry lover to frequent the monthly Fiction Burn events in Newcastle, the next being on the 27th November.

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