For me, there are a few things that can be ‘done small’. West End productions, mince pie consumption, number of novelty mugs in the cupboard, etc. For Luke Wright, this is clearly performance poetry.
Adopting the persona of Frankie Vah, Wright was a ball of energy let loose upon the Barbican Theatre stage. Gaining velocity and ricocheting across the walls of the theatre, he was raw and unleashed. A 20-something misfit, Frankie Vah has a story to tell and the narrative is constantly flowing.
‘We all want something to believe in. It’s 1987 and Frankie Vah gorges on love, radical politics and skuzzy indie stardom. But can he keep it all down?’
Starting his story at University, Vah finds his place through poetry – in particular, political poetry. Rejecting his father’s Tory beliefs, he rolls down a Labour landslide, accumulating more knowledge, passion and hatred for his society’s current political mindset. After university, he finds himself repressed in an office job he couldn’t care less about. Vah is the epitome of post-university blues – that is, until, he meets Eve and decides to ditch it all and head to London.
Vah starts to perform stand up gigs in London bars, grasping a feel for live performance. Eventually he manages to secure a gig touring around the UK with indie band The Midnight Shift, using poetry to hype up the crowd with his Labour love in the run up to the general election of ’87. Feeling the excitement of the crowd pour into him, he unravels into something so nearly unhinged.
Wright’s poetry is warfare – bullets shot through the air, piercing the skin of every Tory (or Denis Healey) supporter in the audience. His frustration with life was a song for every post-University viewer who may find themselves working a 9-5 job they hate. His love for Eve was as intense as a teenager’s first love and we saw that through his slowed down words and gentler, softer tones. But, it all comes crumbling down on election night and Frankie Vah has no one – not Eve, not The Midnight Shift – to help him rise again. Only his Tory father who he resents wholeheartedly is there at the end to tell him to pick up the pieces.
A one-man show, this production didn’t fall short of plot, interaction or energy. Wright had enough fire to launch the audience to the end of his political rapture, and anyone would be privileged to experience spoken word the way this poet performs it.
Further tour dates can be found, here: http://www.lukewright.co.uk/gigs/
Find more from the Barbican Theatre, here: https://www.barbicantheatre.co.uk/performances/