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Shane Koyczan @ The Forum Theatre

★★★★★

I still remember the first time I watched Shane Koyczan’s To This Day online. I cried. I laughed. I cried some more. As I headed to see him perform live on stage, I was swelling with emotion ranging from excitement to absolute apprehension. Fluttering fiercely, my stomach butterflies were in flight, for I was about to discover the secrets of a spoken-word show for the very first time.
 
Buzzing with undeniable enthusiasm, the audience was made up of both young and older eagerly awaiting fans. As the main man himself stepped onto stage, he was noticeably nervous and exuded an authenticity that simply could not be forced. Spending his birthday with us, we began the night with a Happy Birthday sing-along. Afterwards, Shane asked ever so casually, “What are you guys doing here on a Sunday night?”.
 
Instantly charismatic and incessantly funny, he inhaled his surroundings, preparing to catapult us down the tracks of an emotional rollercoaster through the theme park that is his life. Making our first stop, the ride took us straight to Shane’s first Crush. Pondering his ten-year old puppy love for a girl named Penny, the poem was perfectly passionate, yet subtle enough to ease us into it. Placing an explanative tale before each piece, Shane filled us in on all the important details before plunging us into the depths of his life. A rare and rather comforting experience, he not only allowed us to indulge in his private experiences but also to feel somewhat a part of them.
 
Speaking about the lack of open space and the addition of overbearing advertisements, Shane shared his concern for the younger generation in a world that values beauty, perfection and self-hate. This soon brought us to For Many. Spreading his worrisome words, they soon spilled into a melodic mantra surrounding the question “if you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?”. Incredibly inspiring, it wasn’t too long until tears were inevitable and tissues were necessary.
 
Raised by his grandparents, Shane described what it was like growing up around his “unnerving” grandad. Hidden behind a newspaper and his disinterest in a lengthy conversation, he was the type of man you just had to get to know. Helping us to hone in on his essence, the talent told us of his protective nature, especially when it came to bedtime monsters. Turn On A Light twisted and turned us through the most important moments of their relationship. Complete control over his vocal tempo and tone, the performer was met with absolute awe.
 
Easily the most emotive piece of the night, For Instance paid tribute to the loss of a friend. Softly spilling out of his mouth, Shane’s words were stirring on an all-new level. Bringing light to a bleak situation, he spoke of their fondest memories, smiling in small sections. Touching on the injustice of an unexpected passing, it was understandable when he needed a break at the poem’s ending. Revealing, “I really miss him, I wish he was here”. An audience member offered him a tissue, and we waited until he was ready to continue.
 
Don’t fret – the introduction to A Letter To Remind Myself Who I Am had us all laughing again as Shane compared himself to the love child of Harry Potter and Hagrid. Followed by a hilarious tampon-themed haiku, he reminded us of the joy of poetry, not just the sorrow. Creating a stark contrast, he closed with a poem about an arsehole cat that he trusts more than most humans. Returning for an encore, Shane Koyczan reminded us to never stop dancing because others expect you to. Suddenly striking, subtly surreal and simply stunning – I cried. I laughed. I cried some more.
 
BY PHOEBE ROBERTSON