For a man whose spoken word revolves around Satan and who has chosen the dingiest, darkest basement of The Banshee Labyrinth for his latest show,
As Ralphs builds to a thunderous climax, it’s hard not to be impressed by this storyteller’s ingenuity.
Storytelling isn’t a particularly well-known genre. Cooler than a poetry reading but without the hipster status of spoken word, storytelling consists of a structured, rehearsed but not rigidly scripted, usually single story. Ralphs’ unravels his yarn, Theseus-like, guiding his audience through an elaborate narrative maze. This task, however, requires sustained concentration from both storyteller and his listeners, a fact inevitably hampered by the gig’s setting in a noisy pub.
It is immediately apparent that Ralphs can work an audience, warming up with a short, sweet story that has the ability to make root vegetables seem interesting. The main event, however, is far darker than its overture, refashioning the Faust narrative with a glinting playfulness. Yet this middle section of Ralphs’ set is also the bumpiest ride, forcing the audience to the cling on for dear life or risk being thrown off the narrative wagon. At this point, a handful of audience members took their cue to leave.
If you make it past this rough patch, however, the payback is considerable. As Ralphs builds to a thunderous climax, it’s hard not to be impressed by this storyteller’s ingenuity, which combines crowd-pleasing with not-giving-a-shit. Standing there in his cummerbund and Jesus sandals, Ralphs is a paradigm of unapologetic nerd-dom. Rebranding Beelzebub is a fluent example of a genre that has been upcycled for the present day.