Wright brings mirth in his night with McNish

The poetry club at the Corn Hall has long since outgrown the cosy Waveney Room, and now wins audiences in the main hall that rival shows that you might think would have a wider audience. This is as much to do with Luke Wright’s hosting the event, as it is the calibre of performers he invites. It’s nonetheless heartening to see such a healthy audience for poetry, especially in such a convivial and friendly atmosphere.

As usual, Wright opened the evening, mixing up hilariously grotesque portraits of excess, entitlement, impotent rage, and bouncing bishops, with his love of his wife, murmuration, the Norfolk coastline, and tracksuits. Slotting in between was his pet project – the univocal poem that uses only one vowel. Wright finding limits is still his thing. Is his flirt with this thrilling skill lifting spirits? Is this slick trick childish? Is Wright limiting his night with it? Which is right? I think this risk is fitting. I think it brings mirth.

Hollie McNish is a deceptively unassuming performer, artfully perpetuating a myth that she is anything other than a commanding and charismatic presence. Her set focused heavily on family relations, in all their complexity, and took the audience on a giddy trip that had her stealing teabags in homage to her grandma, the loss of that grandma, and the chasm between genuine and faux grief. Whether talking to her younger self, or her seven year old child, McNish has a knack of taking the minutiae of everyday life and illustrating on a broad canvas. When she argues with her headmaster, we all wish we’d done just the same. When she realises her daughter no longer needs her, we all feel the loss of being unnecessary. By taking on the small and the seemingly inconsequential, she somehow managed to touch on universal themes that resonated far beyond the narrative of her poems