It’s 6.30 and my son is lying on the bed next to me half drunk on the milk I’ve just fed him. We’re in Manchester. We’re at my inlaws, my wife is asleep in the other room. I’m going to wake her up in a moment and we’ll head north to Edinburgh for a month where I am to perform my new show – The Petty Concerns of Luke Wright – everyday until 30 August. This is my eighth year in a row at Edinburgh. I first came to the festival in 2002 as a wide-eyed (well, saucer-eyed might be more accurate) English student who wrote poems exclusively about celebrities and E4 culture and how much he loathed it.
Things have moved on a bit. Over the last seven eight years I have performed nine different Fringe shows in seven years, this year will make eleven because as well as doing my own show everyday I’m launching Purple Ronnie’s Stand-Up Poetry Club on 20 August at The Udderbelly.
This will also be my last Fringe run. Well, for a couple of years at least. When I get back in September I’m changing direction for a while. I’m cutting down on gigs for a few months and trying to write a book. I’ll tour this new show next year, but then after the Festivals next summer I’m off on holiday for a few months (pretty much my first since I was 19).
I’m really excited about this year, but also scared. After my final previews on Saturday my director, James Grieve, who has worked on 2 of my other solo shows, was very excited. He reckons this is “easily” my best show. But then James works in theatre, for all the Stella Artois and stoic manliness he’s capable of showing, I know he’s a luvvie at heart. Of course he’s going to say that. He wants me to feel good.
And I do. I think agree with him. I do think it’s my best show. But that’s the minimum I require from a new show. Every year I go to Edinburgh in this state of mind, convinced I’ve got my best work with me. You have to as a performer, especially as a solo performer, you need to be rock solid.
In 28 days I’ll be packing to come back south and I’ll have a much better understanding of this show. It’s triumphs and faults will be seared, in the shape of stars, onto my ego. So before that happens it is useful for me to have some idea of what I really think of a piece of work.
This show is the darkest I’ve done. It deals with ego and ambition. In poems like Luke’s Got A Joke I completely assassinate the uglier sides of my character. I am the victim at the heart of the all the stories, but a victim that deserves to get it. This is not just self-deprecating humour, I am exposing myself in a pretty poor light. The hope it that I reclaim my dignity by washing my sins in the laugher of other people, but whether that’ll work I don’t know.
What I do know is that the story of the show is complete. It’s about the journey I have been on since the fringe in 2007 (when I did my last full solo run) and what I have done to get over myself. Whatever happens I don’t want to get like that again (in short obsessed by what other people like of me) and I have to just take pride in this show and enjoy performing it. Hopefully the audiences will come.
You can buy tickets by clicking the poster in the side bar. Wish me luck. Here we go.