Luke Wright review: Throughout the evening as Luke rants, roars and pours his heart out we are all touched and held tight by this lyrical tour de force.
- Credit: Idil Sukan
Britain is in turmoil the day after Brexit didn't happen and if that wasn't enough to worry about the country will soon need a new poet laureate as Carol Ann Duffy reaches the end of her decade of royal service. Could Luke Wright be the man for the job? He has 20 years experience, having given his debut performance in this city when he was 17, and he has plenty to say about Britain.
The poet bursts onto the Norwich Playhouse stage in jacket, designer shirt half unbuttoned and a stylishly uncouth mop of hair. He launches straight into Good Morning Britain – a three-minute high-octane verbal pummelling of Piers Morgan, Daily Mail outrage and liberal anxiety in a nation dominated by snowflakes and gammon.
Beneath the rock n roll swagger Luke reveals himself as an older, wiser man than 10 years ago when he first arrogantly titled his show Poet Laureate – the last time the position was vacant. Over 90 minutes he contemplates his own life as well as the issues facing the nation, in a mix of stand up comedy and performance poetry.
He veers between hilarious, furious, ludicrous, tender and heartfelt as he struts the stage delivering intense, one man dramas. He considers Prince Charles' life in 'a gilded cage' never knowing what it's like to budget for a weekly shop at the supermarket and unites north and south in a tale about London hipsters visiting Bolton which cleverly avoids all vowels except O. His poems are populated by colourful and grotesque characters from an abseiling clergyman to a 19th century criminal with an insatiable appetite for oysters, and campers in Clacton convinced they've seen a lion in a rip roaring two-part yarn that frames the second half of the show. Reflections on his personal life as a divorcee who often finds himself alone provide a touching contrast to his adrenaline fuelled discourses on wider issues.
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As he jumps between themes from contemporary and historic Britain, poetry runs through like a thread, ever present in life's rich tapestry. Luke shuns and embraces the pretentiousness of poetry unafraid to use long words and complex forms but able to perform with enough wit and energy to win over any audience.
Luke's 20 years of experience as a poet and performer show – even though it's easy to believe him when he says he was IDed in Tesco. He does not offer a poem to capture the grief of national tragedies like Grenfell and the Manchester bombings or heal the wounds of Brexit but his lyrical dexterity and broad range of performance styles brings the world into sharp focus with poems that have relevance and vitality.
Luke is maybe not so much laureate material, as a bard of the people. He is a poet who inhabits small English towns and big cities, who performs in plush theatres, and working men's pubs in the heartlands of Leave. He can relate to the woman on a hen night who claims she isn't into poetry but insists that 'everyone will be touched by poetry at some point in their lives'. Throughout the evening as Luke rants, roars and pours his heart out we are all touched and held tight by this lyrical tour de force.