Venue: Underbelly, Cowgate
7 August 2011 WOS Rating: Joyously failing to live up to his title, performance poet Luke Wright offers only surface-level cynicism in this show about the state of our nation, behind which lies a lyrical fightback against “Broken Britain”. His brilliantly delivered barrage of ballads reclaims patriotism from those who, in his words, “like to take out their love of Britain on foreigners”.
Alongside, with an endearingly Radio 4 sense of the need for education as well as fun, is a history of the poetic ballad. I learned, for instance, that in the 1500s so-called ‘Broadside Ballads’ were sold on street corners, retelling the day’s news in an early precursor to today’s tabloids. This and other gems, along with a low-down on the different metres and rhyme schemes available, demonstrate an infectious love for the genre.
But the star of the show is the poems themselves, from the satirical to the touchingly familiar, and peppered with laugh-out-loud lines. Accompanied by Sam Ratcliff’s beautifully detailed illustrations, they conjure modern British life in 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.
- Will Young
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