Having first performed together thirty years ago as the Circus of Poets – which also featured Ian McMillan – David Harmer and Ray Globe are back on stage as the Glummer Twins, billed as stand-up poetry from the beat generation. At one point Globe describes a poem as “a little nostalgia piece – which of them aren’t?!” and indeed, this is a show that looks at the world from a particular generational perspective; either looking back to the past, or recounting the incongruities of the present.
A cracking early poem, “Just turned sixty, taking it badly”, sets the tone with its emphasis on ill-health, misery, and distant memories of sex. But the downbeat message is, of course, subverted by the humour in the rhymes and the energy of the performance. The Glummer Twins – whose name is a pun on the Glimmer Twins, Jagger and Richards – have a great eye for the absurdities and indignities of aging, a telling image and a witty rhyme.
There are backing tracks for some poems, and the Eric Morecambe-esque Globe plays the guitar; the musical references are in keeping with the vintage of the performers, featuring The Kinks, Aerosmith and Bob Dylan amongst others. On these, Harmer takes more of a lead on the poems, but there’s an amusing recurring joke as he always needs Globe to count him in. The easy banter and friendship between the likeable pair are winning traits, and create a relaxed atmosphere in the Barrel Room. They aren’t quite word perfect yet, but they acknowledge it through knowing references to the script, and there’s a confidence that they’re old hands and will be able to pull it off.
The pure nostalgia poems go down a storm, but perhaps limit the appeal of the show to those of a certain age. I’m in my mid-forties, and many of the references were a bit early for me. The themes of aging and the problems thereof are similarly a little overdone, but some of the imagery is memorable; I liked the thought of mods graduating from mopeds to mobility scooters and going looking for rockers (the type of chair, that is).
On the other hand, the jaundiced but comic views on the modern world – middle aged men in Lycra and Bake Off – don’t feel particularly original. And it was one of the few poems that avoided the topic of age and aging which was easily the hit of the evening, featuring some heavy duty literary punning in the style of hard boiled crime noir.
Perhaps I’m being churlish – and maybe it’s because, remarkably for me, I might have been the youngest in the room – but while the material on aging was lapped up by an overwhelmingly appreciative audience, the Glummer Twins are talented enough writers and performers to extend their range and widen their appeal. All the same, you absolutely won’t regret spending an hour in their company. They’re very funny men, those Glummer Twins.