Luke Wright wasn’t always a poet and a man. He was once a reluctant exchange student with a big gay face.
It is this kind of incidental detail drawn from an awkward suburban adolescence in Colchester – "where no culture stirs" – that underpins the eight, lightning-quick lyrical ‘chapters’ which comprise Poet & Man. In just under an hour, Wright, frenetic and charming by turn, relates this poetic coming-of-age tale.
The show’s almost universal appeal is arguably due to the inclusion of some superbly crafted comic archetypes: an erstwhile friend, the teenage loser Darryl (who is perhaps more in the mould of Harry Enfield’s Kevin than Wright would care to concede), being just one example. Wright, however, is well aware that that he is the most fascinating character in the frame, yet he never descends into the pomposity which he candidly acknowledges performance poetry can threaten. This is largely a consequence of his delivery: an absolutely engaging narrator, when Wright lets poetic rip he is rhythmically perfect but never poised, soundbites tripping off his tongue.
Add to this his name checking of wordsmiths from Evelyn Waugh via Freud to Avril Lavigne, and you realise that to see Poet & Man as simply a wry peek at how poetry can underpin manhood is to sell Wright short. It is, rather, a genuinely funny and charming insight into how a rhetorically-informed world-view can turn a quick wit into a blinding talent. Luke Wright, poet and man, oozes verse from every pore. Luckily for us, he’s also a born performer.