DARREN MCGARVEY has endured a stratospheric rise to fame. In 2018, the book he wrote, ‘Poverty Safari: Understanding the Anger of Britain’s Underclass’ was awarded the Orwell book prize for political writing. In it he embarks the reader on a journey through the social wastelands of Britain’s ignored society, outlining first-hand what it’s like to live on the bottom rung of the countries class ladder. There are anecdotal experiences of navigating food banks, dealing with addiction, and the argument put forward by McGarvey is how no political leaders from any end of the spectrum understand this area of society. Performing under his pseudonym Loki, McGarvey angrily communicates his experiences into a range of angry yet erudite poetry rapped furiously to the audience. The man has become a cultural phenomenon, his work championed by the likes of Russell Brand, whilst in the audience today sat two seats away from me was Frankie Boyle, a performer who knows how to make an acidly delivered point about the UK today.
There wasn’t much in the way of rapping today. McGarvey was there to deliver a monologue partly about how he had suddenly found his circumstances change from penniless no hoper to a man earning beyond his wildest dreams before leading into a diatribe against what he perceives is wrong about the current political state of the country. This was brave on two fronts as I suspect many people in the audience were expecting more of Loki’s raps, and as a predominantly liberal crowd frequents the Fringe McGarvey was essentially berating the majority of the audience by stating a liberal viewpoint was the worst as it highlighted a lack of genuine beliefs or the possibility you had sold them out to enhance your own social mobility.
Social mobility was a key theme and clearly an area the newly monied McGarvey evidently wrestles with himself: I found the most interesting part of the show was when McGarvey reinvented himself as a caricature of his previous self, who proceeded to castigate the new McGarvey, asking had this new incarnation spoke about how he couldn’t sleep at night, so anxious was he of this new found fame, how he pontificated about an addicts life yet slipped a couple of times recently. I found these windows into his inner scene revelatory.
A challenging performance, mostly thought provoking, and lead to me to seek out his book to learn more about this interesting man.