FRINGE REVIEW: “Caissie Workman: Aberdeen”

Caissie Workman: Aberdeen – Venue 393: Just the Tonic Nucleus – Just the Tonic’s Atomic Room – 4pm

DRESSED in grunge fashion with chipped nail varnish and the haunted look of a bewildered fan, Caissie Workman delivers an hour-long poem about the life and suicide of Kurt Cobain, the lead singer and guitarist in the rock band Nirvana.

Workman’s delivery is soft, mellifluous but at times too quiet and therefore disappointingly inaudible. The shame of that is, as a member of the audience, you miss some of the wonderful writing. The words of the poem have the ability to transport you to the bleak underpasses and deprivation of Cobain’s hometown, the rundown and down-at-heel town of Aberdeen in Washington State.

With equal verbal skill, the poem explores Cobain’s troubled life as a talented musician, lyricist, and iconic head of Generation X. Workman’s poem explores, dispassionately, his wrestling with drug addiction and depression. But in an instant Workman switches tempo to be that loyal fan who, now, transported back in time tries in vain to alter Cobain’s life to ensure it doesn’t end at 27 in suicide. It’s cleverly done, with the change in the speed of delivery and the urgency of the words.

Cobain’s troubled and tumultuous relationship with his wife and fellow musician Courtney Love is skilfully worded as a reflection of his own life. The final observation from Workman is that Cobain was not a victim of suicide but elected to “commit suicide” rather than being “a victim of circumstances resulting in suicide”. A subtle difference, but cleverly worded.

Is an hour-long eulogy about Kurt Cobain for everyone? Perhaps not, as there were a few walkouts during the performance but, for those that stayed, we were lucky to witness a skilful display of verbal dexterity.


Get the full details about the show here.

Plus, read more reviews on Scottish Field’s Fringe pages.