This was a real break-through show for me. It was the first time I really embraced storytelling in verse, though I had experimented with it in my previous two shows. Cynical Ballads debuted at The Port Eliot Festival in 2010 in a 90% finished state. I worked on the show through the autumn and winter before a proper run of ten shows at The Leicester Square Theatre in early 2011. The show then toured throughout 2011, including a sold-out run at Edinburgh where it was in the top 5 reviewed shows in the comedy section of the programme. I toured it again in 2012, finally putting it to bed in October 2012 at the Melbourne International Festival. It has served me well.
Luke Wright presents eight caustic tales from Broken Britain. Let him lead you through Blighty’s run-down shopping precincts, provincial highstreets and airless television studios to introduce a cast of tone-deaf pop wannabes, terrorized single mums and baby-boomers with “afflu-AIDS.” Between each poem Luke offers a pithy crash course in the history of balladry, from broadsides to Christina Aguilera. Stunning Steadman-esque illustrations accompany each poem courtesy of Sam Ratcliffe.
* * * * * The Scotsman – “Timely, patriotic, touching and consistently funny, this outstanding show marries form and content in a way that defies superlative and leaves a choking gap within you when it finishes.”
* * * * * The List – “The real deal … exquisite hour … John Cooper Clarke has said of the poet: ‘He must be on some kind of dope’. Whatever it is that Luke Wright has been ingesting, artists of all genres need to get it bottled right now.”
* * * * * One4Review – “Funny, extremely entertaining and masterfully delivered creations from this imposing lad from Colchester.”
* * * * * Broadway Baby – “The simple, contained ballad form allows Wright’s jaw-dropping lyrical talent to be exhibited in a straightforward manner which eschews frivolity or pretension … at once hilarious and heartbreaking, as well as profoundly human.”
* * * * The Daily Telegraph – “A zestful relish for pump-action word-play combines with a thoughtful and deeply felt understanding of just how messed-up Britain is today, whether it’s celebrity-worship, elitist politicians or hellish anti-social behaviour. Thoroughly recommended.”
* * * * WhatsOnStage – “(the poems) conjure modern British life in an expertly observed, lovingly critical and (in the best sense) patriotic style, in a show with ideas and intentions far larger than the small, attentive Underbelly audience that Wright will surely soon outgrow.”
* * * * Chortle – “This impresses for its poignant literacy”
* * * * Fest – “One particular tale has a woman crying in the row behind. Another provokes an old man to kiss his wife on the cheek. The world, as it turns out, hasn’t really changed and poetry is still as relevant and powerful today as it ever was.”
* * * * Hand + Star – “They are masterpieces of energetic word-craft.”
* * * * Exeunt – “Wright could well be the most relevant poet of this generation, which, … makes his show perhaps the most important of this year’s Fringe.”
* * * * Threeweeks – “Wright’s set is one that confronts our collective evils without preaching about them.”
The Huffington Post – “Likeability is one of Wright’s strongest cards, and boy does he play it well. If you huff, puff and bemoan the very existence of live poetry- for Guardian readers and emotion perverts, do I hear you cry?- Luke Wright will challenge every un-believing bone in your body.” (full review here)
* * * * * Remotegoat – “His poems are reminiscent of Betjemen in the way they deal of everyday life in Briton and show his pride in being British.” (full review here)
Londonist – “Over the years that Wright has been performing, he has developed his style and the range of the performance techniques that he uses significantly. He is definitely one of the most entertaining performance poets currently on the circuit. Next time, if he leaves out the singing, his show will be nigh on perfect.” (read full review here)