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> > > Review: DaDaFest presents Richard Tyrone Jones's Big Heart
Man from book in front of microphone

Richard Tyrone Jones at the open mic

DaDaFest invited Richard Tyrone Jones to perform his one man show Big Heart. Trish Wheatley went along to see him relive his perilous journey to the operating table and back again.

Sunday afternoon at the Bluecoat Liverpool and it is poetry day for DaDaFest. Richard Tyrone Jones’s Big Heart is a one-man show that takes the audience on an hour-long journey through his life as a performance poet, whose path took a dramatic turn when he experienced heart failure aged thirty.

In a carefully crafted combination of story telling and poetry Tyrone Jones made one of those ‘never thought it would happen to me especially at this age’ illnesses become a vivid reality on stage in a story told with honesty and humour.

His ability to use language to flip between the despair of coming so close to death and living through the disabling condition to moments of humour and then to heart-wrenching declarations of the emotional experiences was captivating. This, combined with a mastery of acting that communicated his words directly, made for a compelling show. This was a non-political piece of disability arts that allowed the disabled and non-disabled audience to relate to the emotional experiences of the protagonist throughout this dramatic period of his life. 

A projection by provided a creative, Monty Python-esque animated illustration and non-gruesome set design to what was in some places quite a gory account of Tyrone Jones’s periods in hospital. In the heat of the performance space I was personally quite glad of the scripted warning Tyrone Jones provided before he launched into lines such as “I still had to choke back my bubbly phlegm all the way through and could still feel the surgeons cutting my neck and failing to get the line in the right way for the first couple of attempts.” 

The show avoided becoming a self-indulgent autobiographical exploration by also tackling wider issues such as the very real consideration of whether or not he should be allowed (or allow himself) to have children should the condition be confirmed as hereditary.

Produced by Liz Bentley for DaDaFest this was an inspired piece of programming and again, as with the Evelyn Glennie performance of the previous night had a wonderfully inclusive aspect to it. On this occasion it took the form of an open mic poetry event. Richard remained and read a few of his other poems from his current and previous publications. Others took to the mic in a vast array of poetic styles and subject matters. 

If Richard Tyrone Jones is visiting your neck of the woods in his upcoming tour check it out for an absorbing and thought provoking show from this talented wordsmith. His publications and further information are also available on his website.