Luke Wright delivered an in-your-face, politically charged performance of poetry in a one-man show entitled What I Learned From Johnny Bevan. Starting with a skit on London and the pretentious life one can lead there, Wright’s character Nick set the scene by detailing a new festival that gentrified a set of housing blocks, which have previously played a part in his life.
The show goes on to flash-back to Nick’s sixth form life, which left him yearning for a more intellectually stimulating existence, expecting to meet scarf-and-beret-wearing, bike riding, underground-music-listening, book devourers at university.
“Upon meeting Johnny and his friends, Nick finally finds his group”
After an initial settling in period, Nick watches Johnny Bevan spit out a satire poem on the Tories at the university bar, and makes it his mission to become friends with him. Upon meeting Johnny and his friends, Nick finally finds his group and becomes more and more politically active, campaigning for New Labour and joining in Johnny’s rages against the world.
“An especially captivating sequence concerned the 1997 election win for Labour”
Quick interludes of music and spotlights which changed the mood were used very effectively to highlight the range of emotions displayed by Wright. An especially captivating sequence concerned the 1997 election win for Labour.
The show demonstrated the amazing abilities of Wright, in both his writing and performing. The poetry was incredibly intelligently crafted and felt difficult to navigate at first, although as the play went on, it became easier to grasp. Wright’s stamina is also applaudable, the performance lasted for nearly an hour and worked almost as a monologue.
“The poetry managed to induce a range of emotions from humour to rage”
His voice-work and facial expressions managed to create countless other characters, and the use of accents worked well to distinguish between different people. The poetry managed to induce a range of emotions from humour to rage, and was at times very powerful and thought-provoking. The play concludes by bringing the story up to date, in David Cameron’s Britain, and shows the evolution of the Nick and Johnny’s lives, which have followed increasingly differing paths.
“It is clear from his sparring with the crowd that Wright also has comedic talents”
After the interval, Luke Wright performed a number of short poems that spoke about Ian Duncan Smith, a re-working of a Georgian tale and his own family. It is clear from his sparring with the crowd that Wright also has comedic talents, evoking raucous laughter and shock as he crossed norms of social barriers.
Overall, Wright managed to make poetry contemporary and accessible to both a student and local audience. It was hard not to be in awe of his characterisation and word play. He tackled social justice and political themes in an innovative manner and won over new fans, making Wright’s next work widely anticipated.
7/10 – Great show but room for improvement
Yasemin Craggs Mersinoglu
Image courtesy of spf communications ltd
For more information on Luke Wright, and to check out his upcoming tour dates, see here.