Bram Gieben is a recovering nihilist. In fact, at best, he’s a heroic pessimist. I know this from his show, ExNihilo, which I saw on Sunday, and from the book of the show (how cool is that? CDs too – but no t-shirt. I would’ve definitely bought a t-shirt with ExNihilo on it).
Backed by a sparse soundtrack of growling, prowling synths, Bram’s show tracks his progress from a disengaged believer in nothing having meaning to an engaged, activist(ish) teetering-on-the-edge-of-positive dude, by way of that referendum back last year (goodness! A year ago, nearly, already?) Any one-man show which is even part-autobiographical runs the risk of being seen as self-indulgent, but in reality the set pieces are the star turns: poems like ‘Keep Going,’ and ‘Burn’ (the latter of which caused a fist fight at a Glasgow open mic night, apparently) are utterly engaging.
Likewise, whilst I might have heard Bram’s central thesis before – that we are at the end of days, surfing on the death spasms of capitalism as it impales itself on the three-tined pitchfork of population explosion, climate change, and the military-industrial complex’s blinkered ideologies – I’ve never heard it so lyrically expressed.
I know Bram Gieben through our mutual membership of Writers’ Bloc, as a skilful writer of fiction and perspicacious critic of others’ work. I’ve been a fan of his performance poetry at a distance via YouTube (see below) but I’ve never experienced his solo work this close up, this intense, and this full on.
Please go and see this guy. Last chance this Sunday, 23rd, at 9.30 at Summerhall. Tear up your ticket to see the next stand up comedian, and go and see him instead. You don’t have to be a nihilist, an ex-nihilist, a Yes voter, or even a card-carrying member of the Green Party to enjoy it. You do probably have to be on the side of the angels, however you view that loaded statement.
Bram Gieben is a recovering nihilist. Bram Gieben is one hell of a performer. Go.
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