Arts Review - "What I Learned From Johnny Bevan" by Luke Wright

A review of "What I Learned From Johnny Bevan" performed by Luke Wright at Colchester Arts Centre

On Wednesday 23rd November, I had the pleasure of attending my first ever live performance of poetry. The poetry, rendered in the guise of a play, was performed by our very own Colcestrian Luke Wright. Wright told us during a Q&A that they play format was chosen with the intention of bringing poetry to the mainstream masses. I consider myself to be part of that group.

"What I Learned From Johnny Bevan" is the latest work in an 18-year career as a performer and poet. The performance has at its heart a tale of friendship formed against the backdrop of political change. We are led through a story that talks of the real hope that New Labour held for a generation, and the stark reality of the compromises made by Blair and his cohorts and then right up to modern day. Steeped in 90's nostalgia, the performance evokes memories of Britpop and New Labour. This theme is so ingrained that you barely notice that Wright (as Nick) wears a black, yellow tipped Fred Perry polo, synonymous with fellow Colchester artists Blur.

The performance itself is energetic and captivating and the setting of the Colchester Arts Centre could not have been more perfect. It starts with a powerful appraisal of Tory government, one that can be attributed to the early 90's or indeed today. Earthy and honest, Wright speeds through his performance at such a rate that thoughts of stanza and rhyme become secondary to Wright's storytelling ability. The language is coarse, but it suits the content and brilliantly emphasises some of the crucial elements to this performance.

Anyone that knows me, would be surprised that it's me, writing an article after watching a poetry performance. I'm equally surprised, as poetry, certainly isn't my 'thing'. But this was. This was an altogether different performance. Forget your GCSE anthologies, this is modern poetry aimed at the mainstream masses, and something that has certainly surprised me. If you liked traditional poetry, you might like this. If you don't like traditional poetry, I urge you to give it a try. You might just like it: I did. 

Luke Wright returns to the Colchester Art Centre on the 17th of December for the Christmas Poetry Bash.