Review for Cellar Bards Performance, Cardigan, Wales

By Richard Davies | Monday, June 2nd, 2015 For The Wales Arts Review

The Butch Priestess International Tour landed at the Cellar Bards in Cardigan on Friday night (29th of May). It was the second gig of a two month tour which takes Australia based Candy Royalle across Wales, England and Northern Ireland – the Scots are missing out.

In a fifty minute set of an energetic, assured, and startling performance, Royalle engaged and enthralled with poems such as ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ and ‘Oh Captain, My Captain’ from her recent collection Heartbeats while also offering new poems – about a house, about friends, about betrayed love, and about meeting an ex at Central Station – we all have a Central Station somewhere.

As a performer she wants to understand the energy of her audience, a gig in London had left her feeling alone on the stage – here the empathy is evident from the start and the performance thrives. Her introductions to her work are succinct and revealing; there’s humour, context and pathos in her delivery and as with all the best performers she knows her lines.

She finishes with ‘Memories’, an exposition of what it means to her to be born in Australia, queer, a second generation immigrant with memories that are Palestinian of their baladi, their homeland. It opens with a quiet refrain, luring the listener in.

It continues into a long poem, bristling with memory and feeling and things to say about hope and life and history building into a classic. This is the best live performance of a poem I’ve heard in years.

A five star performance. She’s in the UK for two months, you’d be daft not catch a gig.

Review for “Heartbeats”

By Brownwyn Lovell | June 23rd, 2014

Review for Sydney Theatre Company performance: Ursula Rucker with Candy Royalle

By Lee Hutchison | Friday, October 11th, 2013 For The Brag

As part of the Word Travels Festival, the newly crowned home of the Australian Poetry Slam, stand out voices Ursula Rucker and Candy Royalle took to the Sydney Theatre Company stage. Having released five solo albums since 1994 as well as collaborating with The Roots, 4Hero and Jazzanova, Miss Rucker, a Philadelphia poet, is a unique talent and seeing her on Aussie soil sure was an experience.

Sydney-based poet Candy Royalle opened the show and although having previously seen some of her pieces, this performance brought new life and meaning to her words. Her passionate, fierce yet vulnerable creations had the audience involuntarily nodding and gasping as she struck tender nerves and boldly articulated complex ideas and emotions. The sexuality and rawness of some pieces was made even more extraordinary considering her mum was in the audience – evidence alone that Candy is unafraid to challenge anyone and everyone who hears her perform.

Next up Ursula graced a well-warmed stage just moments after stepping off a flight from Melbourne where she was surrounded by a touring football team. “You all know what I’m talking about there,” she exclaimed to a roar of laughter. After such trauma she understandably took a piece or two to find her groove. Hers were more musical pieces that focus on the plights so intrinsic to her hometown of Philadelphia. Still, the themes of inequality, race, feminism, war, love, peace and struggle easily cross cultural boundaries. Her passion, confidence and distinctive style were so intoxicating that by the end of her forty minute set the audience were on their feet wanting more. She rounded things up with one final piece and left the stage to another standing ovation.  Walking away it was hard to come back to earth after such a fast paced and eye-opening evening that not only shook the foundations of what poetry can be, but also reinforced the power of spoken words.

4/5 stars

Reviews for Stories by Starlight

By Kasia Burns | Sunday, September 9th, 2012 For the Sydney Fringe Festival

You can never really know what to expect from a spoken word poetry gig, so I went to see Candy Royalle with an open mind. Her opening act wasn’t quite spoken word, but it wasn’t quite singing. It bore a resemblance to rap, but it was so much more than anything the rap genre could stand for. The show itself was a fusion of music, poetry and a bit of burlesque. What ever it was, I was mesmerised from the first word she spoke.

On some, the three piece band accompanied Candy’s poem quite cleverly – adding to the emotion but remaining in the background so as not to steal the limelight. On others she went it alone and it made no matter. Even the two beautiful burlesque ladies, Betty Grumble and Ember Flame, getting naked and dancing enthusiastically around and in front of her couldn’t distract from the pure passion and sincerity of Candy.

The poems were open and honest with a rhythm that was entrancing. The small crowd packed into Marrickville’s Red Rattler barely drew breath as  Candy performed…that is until she urged them to join in. Between acts, Candy held as much of a stage presence as not. Her crowd interaction was spot on, encouraging feedback (good and bad) by way of clicks, howls and hisses.

Candy Royalle and her talented band are performing three more shows over the next two Thursdays (13th and 20th of September) and I can not recommend taking the time to check it out for yourself enough. You can find out more at her website at

By Julia Wakefield Radio Adelaide | Thursday, March 1st, 2012 For the Adelaide Fringe Festival

I went to the opening night of Candy Royalle’s show “Stories by Starlight” at the Queens Theatre last night. When the show starts, it appears to be a predominantly musical performance. Candy’s band Sloppy Joe are by no means sloppy players. Serg the bass player is particularly impressive. Candy begins singing a poem that could easily be a song, but the lyrics keep changing, the story is developing, the music is responding to the words rather than merely beating out a rhythm and repeating a melody. We don’t catch all the words but we see the passion and their meaning in her gestures.

Then the music fades and she begins another poem, this time without accompaniment. But the mood has been set and the rhythm and the passion of the words still carry us along. She’s a powerful figure with shaven forehead and dreadlocks piled high on her head she resembles an Aztec Princess. Her solid work boots and slightly shabby black pants show she’s prepared to work hard to get our attention and her big strong arms look ready to either hug or crush you with the same passion that she’s pouring into her words.

It comes as no surprise to learn that Candy’s roots lie in the middle east. It gives the poem ‘Brother’ even more significance when she asks the subject of her song to consider her “not as some after thought of God”. And her style, although it’s totally modern is reminiscent of the way persian and Arabic poetry is performed, where the whole body is involved in projecting the emotion of the words.

Go see Candy’s performance then buy one of her CD’s – you’ll want to hear these words again and again and the clarity of the recording will give a new dimension to the work.

By Katie  Adelaide Art Beat | Sunday, March 4th, 2012

Candy Royalle a funky rapping beat poet (who, coincidentally has an amazing head of dreadlocks) is a funky rapping crooning beat poet. Stories by Startlight sees Candy teeming up with Sloppy Joe, a jazz funk band consisting of keyboard, drums and bass. The sound that these guys make cruises through the musical genres of funk, blues and acid jazz with the occasional foray into chaos and disharmony, which will stir you up and challenge your ears, reminding us that not everything in life is about smooth tunes and comfortable armchairs.

Is Candy a singer, a poet, a beat poet or a rapper? She’s all three. Reminiscent of Jamiroqui and Skunkhour, Candy’s lyrics and poetry hit home with me. Favourite songs would have to be “Sexual Revolution” – “Sexual revolution will not be lead by Beyonce…Our sexual revolution begins with a book……And seduction, an art form that appears to be dead. We need intimacy….” and “She is free”

Reviews for Love Spectacular

By Taryn Pollock ArtsHub | Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Describing herself as a poet and a story-teller, Candy Royalle possesses a uniquely-fashioned talent, married with an ability to oh-so-subtly captivate all of your senses, confuse you, challenge you, and win over your heart. Featuring song, poetry and story-telling, this hour long, one-woman show contains a rollercoaster of emotion that will leave you mentally and emotionally exhausted, mesmerized and lusting for more.

Delivered through the rhythmic chants of Candy Royalle’s deep, husky and soothing voice, Love Spectacular is, from start to finish, a flooding feast of prose that’s unleashed upon its audience in the production’s first seconds, with Candy herself scarcely seeming to draw breath.

It is this immediacy of intensity that initially leaves one confused and wondering what exactly it is that you are a part of. Your face stares back at Candy with a look of stunned bewilderment. It’s only at the conclusion of the first poem that you realise your face, once twisted with confusion is – without your knowing – now bearing a broad smile, your head tilted in contemplation, your eyes staring at the stage with wonderment, your breath held in anticipation for what may follow and the air around you, electric.

Any form of presentation that bombards its audience with prose and lyrical verse from start to finish may be hard to follow, and may thus be considered a self-imposed challenge by the artist to maintain the audience’s attention. By way of light-hearted interaction between poems and songs, as well as the adoption of a varied selection of creative delivery techniques, Royalle maintains audience engagement with apparent ease.

The creative techniques adopted throughout Love Spectacular are varied, but in conjunction with Royalle’s words enhance the effect they have on her audience. Rhythmic chants allow emphasis and inflection of emotion in her verse; the inclusion of a guitar loop manipulates her voice and her sound, introducing an echo to the air and lending a soundtrack that complements the melody of her voice. Her gaze is as fixed upon each and every individual in her audience as theirs is on her; her hands are constantly in use, talkative and expressive; her facial expressions convey her intensity and her passion.

Marry these techniques with the prose that make Love Spectacular the sexually charged and emotionally confronting piece of work that it is and Royalle’s mastery of her talent is exposed. Raw, and born of her own experiences and emotions, her artistic language makes repeated mention of romance and fervour, anger and fear, courage and adoration, and lulls you into a trance, leaving you hanging on her every word. Each piece of work climaxes repeatedly; the final climax however, the summation of the piece, renders her intention apparent.

The degree to which her pieces vary is immense, from all-consuming lust in her poem ‘Wanting,’ to an explicit depiction of an unbridled sexual tryst with a lover in ‘Violence’,in which she speaks of “willing rape…of something which has assaulted our senses but is essentially senseless where the savagery has exhausted us.”

Nominated for the ‘showstopping individual performance award’ at the Sydney Fringe Festival, Candy Royalle: Love Spectacular is more than worthy of the praise it has already garnered, and is deserving of the success it will continue to gain. It is truly is an assault on your senses, a feast for your ears and your heart. Allow Candy’s genius to overwhelm and consume you, lure and guide you through a whirlwind of emotion that will leave your flustered and in awe.

By Jenny Smith Rip It Up | Saturday, February 26, 2011

This show is mesmerising. Upon reading the title Love Spectacular, my sinking heart conjured up such terribly sugary songs that I’d be forced to floss upon leaving, but this was not to be. Instead, the dark Candy entranced her audience with stormy poems of near-tribal love, seduction, animalistic desire, tamed sexuality and suppressed longing.

She has a warm humanity which she was happy to reveal between each dark performance; however her happy ease did seem a little disjointed when matched with the heaviness of the worlds we’d just glimpsed.

Anyone who has been in love will recognise, nay, relive, themes including the pain of break-ups and the startling realisation of humanity’s mutual connectedness. They may find themselves leaving with her sometimes-disturbing tales looping like her sound effects, perhaps just a little longer than they’d choose for them to. Herein lies Candy’s confrontational cleverness.

By John Wells Adelaide Theatre Guide | Saturday, March 05, 2011

If you were planning on taking your beloved to Candy Royalle’s show “Love Spectacular” as a late Valentine’s Day present, beware. This is not red roses and a box of chocolates. This is not a teddy bear holding an “I wuv you” balloon. Jason and Kylie are not singing a duet in the background.

Candy Royalle’s love is complex. She understands that love can be desperate, aching and suffocating. She is prepared to take risks by looking into dark and uncertain emotional places: isolation, sexual aggression, dependency, weakness and violence. There is great compassion in her gaze; she is neither judgemental nor preachy.

“Love Spectacular” is a collection of poems and songs, performed in a declamatory “beat” style. In the confines of the small Cuckoo Bar, this is an arresting and intimate experience. Candy Royalle is confident and engaging. She adds vocal loops, giving her poetry more gusto and theatrical depth.

But this show is not for everyone. The rapid delivery and sexual brutality are confronting. It is rewarding but uncomfortable theatre. Those not prepared for, or inclined towards, this type of production should head for safer territory…

By News Limited | Saturday, March 05, 2011

CANDY Royalle is a striking performer with her massive dollop of dreadlocks piled high on her head and an energy that overflows in the intimate venue. The candid poet’s lyrics in song, storytelling and poetry detail the sexualisation of moments in life, being in love and out of love. It’s a love spectacular but not as you would expect. There’s no lovey-dovey here. It’s a strong corporeal and visceral love in her poetry, without any fluffy emotions.In between the chapters of her performance she became the chatty Candy, sharing experiences of performing at other festivals and interacting with the audience.