Tension is high on the first night of Richard Tyrone Jones' (eight feet tall, affable, ginger) massive UK tour (of mostly Edinburgh) as his venue tonight is more used to acoustic guitarists and, sometimes, hubristic guffawists than anyone mad enough to try to introduce a projector into proceedings. It does switch on though and, following excellent sets from local storyteller Martin Walsh, cyberpunk poet Rapunzel Wizard and, er, yours truly, Richard introduces us to the premise of the show: that he celebrated turning thirty by nearly dying of heart failure.
For the next hour (and a bit) he takes us through this illness from mis-diagnosis by an errant GP to his hopeless hypnosis when one Italian-American student nurse enters the ward with a bedside manner that nearly does him in - the latter presented as a deft, reflective-rhyming poem.
You see, while Richard Tyrone Jones hits the mark time and again with a well thought-out and sometimes uproariously funny narrative (wait until you hear his alternatives to an ECG for my favourite joke), he is first and foremost a poet. Not wanting to give any more away, this is a show that will dispel any beliefs you hold that poetry has to be boring, stuffy or about 'nature and shit'. Serious, yes, structured, of course, natural, if you want, but at the same time, this is clever, witty, funny and damn original. There's one particular Petrarchan sonnet in the show that you still won't believe was one, even when he tells you it was, and the dexterity, temerity and hilarity of his show-stopping finale has to be heard to be believed.
Heart failure has never been this much fun!
Richard Tyrone Jones' Big Heart starts at the Banshee Labyrinth Free Fringe venue in Edinburgh on 4th August and tours nationally afterwards.