£12/11 online – £11/10 at the box office
Trepidatious is a word that hasn’t made concise dictionaries, but it best describes how I was feeling before seeing poet Luke Wright, and this is about poetry, so I’ll use that word… It describes my anxiety that I was not going to enjoy the show and would have to give a bad review. I’m not a fan of ‘performance poetry’ in the realm of what is now ‘spoken word’ – its insistence on rhyming by rote and generic delivery style. I’d seen the poet before and wasn’t convinced of his poetic credentials, especially in his support slot for John Cooper Clarke. This time I was happily surprised, this is a good show from a very likeable performer.
What was different this time? First of all, I think Wright’s poetry is much improved, to my ears anyway. It’s not as ‘performancey,’ by which I mean there was some great wordplay, unusual rhyme schemes and rhythms – pseudo-Dada repetitions at times – great breathing control and a fine command of different voices, but it was more wrong-footing and surprising than typical performance poetry. Wright wryly summarises people’s notion that experimental poetry is poetry without a full stop, after doing exactly that. The other thing that makes this show work is the fact that Wright seems like a nice chap: a married, stay at home dad, whose writing reflects his domestic situation, his love for his kids, and his concern for ordinary people, such as commuters (his dad), teachers and Tracy in ‘The Toll,’ which brought a tear to my eye.
And then there’s his engaging talks to punctuate the poems, explaining or adding context to the verses – a highlight of which was a hilarious critique of Lenny Henry. I noted a much more political bent this time too, not least his refusal to attend the Queen’s celebration of poetry. The man and his poetry made me laugh and cry, a difficult balance to achieve, and which perhaps comes from Wright’s observations of our austere and interesting times. 4 Stars: 3 for the show and an extra one for refusing the Queen’s invitation and having the bravery to talk about it.
Reviewer : Nicky Melville