Luke Wright on the Interlude stage – photo © Norwich Eye
It has been a long time, too long, since I enjoyed a good show inside a comfortable theatre in Norwich, or indeed anywhere. One of the most unpleasant side effects of the Coronavirus pandemic, and the Government’s chaotic response to it, has been the virtual elimination of live theatre and music performance.
Norwich Theatre have bravely challenged the blanket ban on theatre by taking to a tent in Chapelfield Gardens, where with open sides and well spread out seating we have been able to enjoy a few shows while respecting the desire for social distancing. As well as the excellent circus shows by Lost in Translation (who own the tent) we have seen many other quickly assembled entertainments that remind us of the joy of live theatre.
Saturday brought us a highlight of this programme, with the irrepressible Luke Wright bringing us his mix of power poetry, pathos and passion. Luke recognises that some of his well known pieces are guaranteed crowd pleasers, so a certain Essex Lion made himself known to us, and to the chroniclers of Clacton caravan life Brian and Babs. We love the fuckin’ lion. Likewise his saga of betrayal and lust about pub drunk Burt composed entirely with the single vowel ‘U’ and no other. Seek it out, but best not while eating your healthy hummus. Babs and Brian even get an update with an insight into their lockdown life.
But Luke never stands still, a prodigious writer and researcher who always wants to give his audience more. He tops and tails the show with a collaboration with musician Cobbler to take us in a new direction, to great effect. His delivery is breathtakingly fast yet he is the master of timing while wringing out the pathos of real human stories of love and loss, triumph and tragedy. He switches between two personas on stage, on the one hand the gobby Essex lad yelling ‘Oi’ to the world, on the other the gentle father navigating his young family through these curious times in more reflective mood. Both are a delight, and he goes further taking on the style of the bawdy balladeer of times past who earned a living by turning news into dodgy verse.
In this guise he gives us the six part saga of the love and loss of the boxing baroness, cruelly used and abused by the landowning toff. The sheer volume of descriptive detail in the work could be overwhelming, but once again Luke has the acting and performing skills to keep us spellbound to every word of his carefully crafted tale.
Luke has been lockdown busy. He gave us 100 daily live performances via social media and has clearly been busy writing, but nothing beats the joy and spontaneity of his live performances with a real audience, and he spreads his infectious enthusiasm from the very start. If you need a cure for the 2020 blues, Luke Wright is the man with the medicine.
Find out more on Luke’s website: https://www.lukewright.co.uk
Find out more about Interlude, the Norwich Theatre summer programme, here: https://norwichtheatre.org/your-visit/interlude/