A Review: Luke Wright – The Toll

A week on from the reopening of the newly refurbished Corn Hall, performance poetry returned to Diss with Luke Wright’s solo show, combining accomplished wordplay and brilliant showmanship to hugely entertaining effect.

The Bard of Bungay performed work from his latest poetry collection to a rapt audience, hungry for his typically eclectic mix of the poignant, the funny, and the downright angry. Despite nods to John Betjeman and Dylan Thomas, Wright left the crowd in no doubt that his voice and his words are uniquely his own. His stunning reading of The Toll – a heart-breaking meditation on the broken lives and dreams of Estuary England – was cleverly counterpointed by the hilarity of old favourite Essex Lion. From the whimsy of oyster eating Edward Dando to the poet’s splenetic rage against Ian Duncan Smith, Wright has an uncanny ability to switch from comedy to tragedy, often in the same poem.

If there is a common theme to Wright’s work, then it’s his acute observation and compassionate appraisal of ordinary folk, getting by. Luke Wright is opinionated, declamatory and has a curious passion for formal verse composition, but what really marks him out is his humanity.

By David Vass