STAGE REVIEW: Luke Wright’s Silver Jubilee @ ARC, Stockton (13.06.24) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Being a bit of a Luke Wright fan I was expecting to enjoy this, and I really did. I would thoroughly recommend becoming familiar with Luke Wright’s work if you get the chance, it has a wider appeal than your average spoken word poet might. It’s rock n roll (or in this performance drum and bass) poetry with a sideline in philosophy, social commentary and stand upstyle humour.

Wright describes this as his most confessional show to date and it definitely had a very personal feel, and a warmth and gentleness that isn’t typical of some of his earlier work. Programmed in the studio at ARC, it was a very intimate setting, enabling Luke to see and directly speak to the audience, which really suited the material. He interacted engagingly with the audience and with his onstage BSL interpreter, which was fascinating to watch – she did an amazing job just in keeping up with his fast paced and idiosyncratic delivery.

The performance covers a wide range of material from Fesshole on Twitter/X to his cat Sir John Betjeman and encompasses love, family relationships and even esoteric poetry. Wright talks about the surrealist offshoot poetry group – the OuLiPo (Google it!) and plays around with some of their stylistic forms – for example writing a poem using only one vowel sound (in this case an ‘A’).

He explores ideas around adoption, privilege and destiny, through a very personal lens, for example he talks about accidentally finding and then watching his birth mother’s Facebook profile – and finds similarities with his birth brother’s career in drum and bass and his own. He shares memories of childhood, and reads us his ‘later life letter’ (given by a social worker after adoption to read on his 16th birthday). He talks about his relationship with his wife (a social worker), his mother and adoptive family and the chance interactions of destiny, background and circumstances.

There are changes of mood from warmth and humour to pathos and a multitude of references are thrown in. A moment both my companion (a newbie to Wright, spoken word performance and poetry) and I really enjoyed, and which ends the show, is a poem called Are Murmurations Worth It? – a bit like Kevin the teenager meets Stewart Lee.

Wright is unique, the man is a genius, and in this show he is personable and accessible as well as funny and smart. His tour of Silver Jubilee continues across the UK – if you get the chance check it out, look him up, read his books/poems or find him on social media. You’ll learn something, be entertained and probably end up a fan.  

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