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Psychotherapist by day, Comedian by night, Liz Bentley's ‘Perverse Verse’ returns to the Ivy House

Acclaimed comedian and poet Liz Bentley teases out her Post Valentines Massacre themed night, Perverse Verse - returning to south London's The Ivy House on Thursday 27 February at 7.30pm.

If you google Perverse Verse very little comes up, partly because I am shite and ambivalent about social media, partly because I struggle with PR and marketing my projects and myself.

‘Psychotherapist by day/Comedian by night, Liz Bentley', that’s me, created Perverse Verse at a time when you didn’t have to have a website and social media consisted of ‘Friends Reunited’. Everything was flyers and word of mouth. That’s what I know, that’s what I like.

PV (lets shorten it) is an eclectic night of cabaret featuring poets, musicians and comedians who perhaps find it difficult to fit into mainstream arts. Ever heard of Rachel Pantechnicon, Project Adorno, Jonny Fluffypunk, Flame Proof Moth? Or me, Liz Bentley?

I began to host the night at the Poetry Place in Covent Garden (at that time it was called the Poetry Café). After two years, when audience sizes grew, we changed venues and moved downstairs at Leicester Square Theatre. I came a cropper here when the rent was put up (I don’t charge much on the door) and I wanted a venue that was accessible for wheelchair users. I gave PV a good long rest and focussed on other things.

Two years ago, an older me, got together with local artist Gill Day. Gill creates the magnificent red and black artwork and sings in the Perverse Verse choir. We now rock the night out in the Ivy House, our local pub in Nunhead.

The Ivy House is London’s first ever community run pub, in the 70s it was alive with performances from rockers like Ian Dury, Joe Strummer, Elvis Costello, to name a few. With its history, gold lame curtains and twinkling mirror ball, it is the perfect venue for Perverse Verse. We feel very much at home here, I had my 50th birthday and my wedding party here, but I began performing here as part of Hugh Metcalf’s Klinker club. His night’s in the early 2000’s (before the pub was nearly knocked down and taken over by the community) were described as ‘improvisation, right weird, pants, poetry film and dance’. I am not copying Hugh, the Klinker is still going in North London (they have a website) but he inspired me and gave me a platform in the early days of my performing life, a place of weirdness I felt I fitted in.

Perverse Verse, it is still an underground event, to start with, who has heard of Nunhead? It is up the road from Peckham but has its own station. I still have no website for PV, I have no footage (a friend did film the last show but I have yet to know quite what to do with the footage). Regulars keep coming and Perverse Verse virgins visiting the area or who have perhaps heard of one of the acts also rock up. Three girls travelled up from Brighton at our Xmas election show, a full house, 150 of us dancing to Lorraine Bowen’s Xmas Crumble song as the exit poll results came in. That night we had our very first burlesque act, Jeremy Phwoabyn.

The things you see at Perverse Verse will never happen again. Each night has a theme, e.g. loneliness, mindfulness, always expect a competition, the prizes are fab, from hair removal cream to Tesco finest wine. Next Thursday, 27th February is our next event, a ‘Post Valentines Massacre’. Our performing guests will be tailoring their material to the darker side of relationships, do check out our flyer below and come along. I haven’t worked out yet what I shall be kicking off the show with, but here is a poem about one of my old valentines:

Separating from the father of my two children ages 2 and 8
“I’m thinking of separating” I said
“Oh, Okay” he said

Perverse Verse
Thursday 27 February, 7.30pm
The Ivy House
40 Stuart Road
London SE15 3BE

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