Ediburgh native, Jem Rolls is back in Ottawa with a new show, Jem Rolls One Man Traffic Jam, billed as a farce-fetched poetic comedy where a London bus burns red in a blinding row between Compassion, Apathy & RoadRage.
Should you see it?
Jem Rolls is a master of the spoken word, intricately understanding cadences and rhythms and repetitions and how to use them to keep an audience’s attention full on him from as soon as he starts until he’s ready to let them go. Its almost hypnotic.
In Jem Rolls One Man Traffic jam, it begins with a nightmare. A nightmare of a show received so badly that it drives the audience to commit mass suicide despite his best efforts to save them. From there, topics veer into Jem Rolls’ quest to find maximum suffering for himself – venturing out into the mess of humanity and traffic on Christmas eve – to let him best work for us, and somewhere along the way, it’s become about religion and evolution and people and love, and, it just all works so well.
The creation myth and description of God is a particular highlight for me but hardly the only part of the show that had the audience in stitches. Many laughs and much beautiful poetry await you at this show. It’s also the type of show, with so much packed in, that you’ll probably be keen to see it again to reinforce what you thought you heard and pick up everything you think you missed.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable experience even if you, like me, have not had a lot of experience with slam/performance poetry. And if you are a fan of performance poetry, Jem Rolls will not disappoint.
If somebody starts a religions based on the “teachings” of Jem Rolls One Man Traffic Jam, I just might sign up to be a missionary.
Matthew’s Follow Up
Jem Rolls is a very talented performer. He’s a very funny poet. And he is able to spitfire his prose at 100 MPH. I can’t help but be captivated in the way that he takes the stage and just starts and keeps going, with no pause or break that isn’t intended and manages to still be standing at the end of his hour, albeit, a lot sweatier than he was at the beginning.
Jem Rolls: One Man Traffic Jam feels slightly off, content wise though. It’s a show that takes a long time to actually get going. It’s a show that feels that it is directly being marketed at the hard-core repeat Fringer. New people to the Fringe game may feel excluded in Jem Rolls opening 20 minutes where he spends a great amount of time and energy talking about the adoring Fringe audiences. This work of his also makes presumptions that you have seen him before.
Once the show picks up though Jem Rolls heads into a very dramatic and entertaining look at evolution and religion with some very innovative ideas and remarks that are just as funny as they are possible. Sometimes the show does slow down though, and I think that’s more for Jem Rolls sake than anyone else’s. He does a top 10 list about evolution, which even he admits to the audience afterwards was 10 slow minutes going slowly nowhere.
What did you think? Were you swayed by the poetry of Jem Rolls? What was your favourite line or bit? Join the discussion in the comments below.
For more information about Jem Rolls One Man Traffic Jam, including show times and how to buy advance tickets, visit its show page on ottawafringe.com: http://ottawafringe.com/tickets/jem-rolls-one-man-traffic-jam/