Reuben Johnson (Platform in the Garden)

Part of the Iris Theatre’s series of theatre pieces from August 2020, Reuben Johnson’s rhythm-fused poetry comes to the screen. I reviewed Dear Peter at the time, which is also available in this video series. Filmed over several performances, this captures something of the energy which must have existed before a small, live audience.

Johnson is a dynamic Northern performer who has acted on stage and screen and written plays. His voice is a strong addition to the spoken word scene. A poet who embraces the stand-up and open mic scenes in his work. You can find out more about him here.

One piece he introduces was part of the BBC Upload Festival. Heisenberging It touches on OCD, ageing, and memory. It displays a wicked sense of rhyme and observation – and of course, a nod to Breaking Bad. Johnson has his finger on the pulse of popular culture and contemporary concerns.

Reuben Johnson performing for Iris Theatre

Johnson’s work is earthy, accessible, fast and relevant, with just a bit of an edge. He talks about social media, drinking, body image and more; the words tumbling so quickly you may miss them if it was not for his razor sharp diction.

His BLM piece, Did I Matter Then, is thoughtful with an edge of anger. He explains, “as a brown person from a white working-class area in Salford”, he knew the life experience. The feelings, the emotions, the sense of injustice. With its repeated words and refrain, this poem gets under the skin. It was rightly widely shared across social media when it was first created.

Set in the gardens of St Paul’s Church, with a snip of sun, Johnson’s words come sharply crafted; delivered with conviction and quiet power. This is someone who has something to say, with his own unique way of delivering that message.

The Platform in the Garden series can be booked at on a PayWhatYouCan basis.