Luke Wright is a Fringe regular with his spoken word and performance poetry shows. This year he makes his theatre debut in the Demonstration Room at Summerhall with the play What I Learned From Johnny Bevan.
The show is mainly set during the mid to late nineties. New Labour are taking power and Brit Pop is still clinging onto it’s cultural relevance. Luke Wright plays the character Nicky Burton – a young student who is curious about literature, politics and music. On a university night out he stumbles on the Lit Soc Open mic night at a local pub. The event is life changing as the youngster sees activist and poet Johnny Bevan take the stage. The event is mind blowing for Nick and also the turning point of the performance. Nick now takes on the life of politics and writing that he desires.
Even though this is Luke’s debut theatre performance, poetry is never far from the stage. The performance is told in verse and when Wright embodies the character of Johnny Bevan, during the Lit Soc open mic, the show really comes to life. The poetry is delivered at a mesmerising pace, making it easy to see why the character of Nick would be transformed and inspired. Luke Wright is a phenomenal performance poet, with a delivery that doesn’t hold back, even to catch a breath.
Luke performs in front of projected illustrations. The images show pencil sketches of working class London and brilliantly set the scene of the play. Visually the show is fantastic and this is augmented with a soundtrack by Art Brut guitarist Ian Catskilken. The music is sometimes subtle and at other times raucous, but it always helps give a sense of location and moves the story forward. What I Learned From Johnny Bevan is a fantastic debut from a rare poetic talent. At times it feels like a Ken Loach film put to verse. It is a strong and personal story told by an original and absorbing performer.