Martin Figura chose the Swindon Festival of Literature for the last performance of his hugely successful show ‘Whistle’. Shortlisted for the ‘Ted Hughes Award’ and winner of the 2013 Saboteur Award for Best Spoken Word Show, ‘Whistle’ tells, through poetry and images, an incredible and compelling story.
Martin’s mother was killed by his father when Martin was just 9 years old.
Expectation could be set for a ‘misery memoir’ style hour of poetry but Figura’s elegant storytelling and engaging stage presence makes sure for a riveting and unique experience instead.
Cleverly used visuals place both the poetry and the narrative in context with 1960’s toys and adverts both used by Figura to add humour to the show.
‘Whistle’ is not about self-pity or dark shadows, it does have its laughs although the overall picture painted by Figura’s poetry is one of pain, disbelief and loss.
Particularly resonant for me were the childhood visits he made to his father in Broadmoor, the mere name conjuring some sort of chill but Figura brings beauty even here with his poem ‘Dad’s Alma Mater’ ending
‘A deer breaks loose from the gorse shakes rain from yellow flowers, I remember being small.’
Built from fragments of memory, letters, photographs and research ‘Whistle’ is a triumphant and captivating show.
The accompanying collection of poems also called ‘Whistle’ ends with a piece where Figura imagines dancing with his mother in her later years.
Entitled ‘June’s Birthday Waltz’ it is a touching and very personal dream sequence.
Swindon should feel very privileged to have been the location for the final performance of this powerful close reading of lives and death.