Luke Wright's Cynical Ballads, Leicester Square Theatre, London
Tuesday 25 January 2011
"It was the fault of the government," barks Mark E Smith on The Fall's version of "Jerusalem" that is played before and after Luke Wright's new show. The 29-year-old poet's series of ballads, structured verses for Broken Britain, are similarly blunt in their assault on the national malaise, with media manipulation and the pursuit of easy fame among the other ills that Wright sees as afflicting our senses and sensibilities.
Guiding us through his vision of a less than green and pleasant land, Wright is attired in a three-piece suit, handkerchief in pocket, a tie and a striped shirt. It's as if he's portraying a city banker who, in a fit of post-crash revisionism, has turned to verse.
Cheeky and cherubic in his asides and introductions, when the stanzas start he bombs bombastically through them. In Wright's armoury are seven tales of modern woe; most notable for their comedy is "The Ballad of Fat Josh", about a fat boy in love who has "an appetite for violence and an even bigger one for chips" and "Melody, She Had None", about a star-struck singer who wears her ambition "like double F tits".
Notable for their poignancy, meanwhile, are a bold take on the Fiona Pilkington tragedy, and the tale of a war hero who seeks to forgive the man who robbed him in the face of a media baying for retribution.
The pervading mood is sombre and Wright's tone is equally heavy. A lack of variety in pace and emphasis means that the couplets come thick and too fast – and they're made more cumbersome still, perhaps, because Wright seems to have a cold.
Despite these choleric complications for our modern balladeer, his sharpest moments do stick out like diamonds in the rough and the overall structure and presentation of his show give the evening a whole feeling despite the clarity it sometimes lacks.
To 29 January ( www.leicestersquaretheatre.com)
Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Germanwings crash: Police make 'significant discovery' at home of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz
- 2 Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
- 3 Zayn Malik already working on solo material, just days after quitting One Direction
- 4 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 5 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Andreas Guenter Lubitz intentionally crashed flight 9525 into the Alps in act of mass murder and suicide – latest