Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review: Luke Wright – Essex Lion at Assembly George Square (Venue 3), reviewed by Roger Cox
IN POLITICAL terms, Luke Wright comes from an interesting place. Growing up in a well-heeled, antiques-obsessed town in Essex, he only discovered politics gradually, first through the bands he listened to as a teenager and later through his left-wing wife.
As a result, although his views are now largely of the Left, he understands as well as anyone the mindset of the Ukip-voting Little Englanders routinely mocked by clever-clever metropolitan types.
And the message of this show – or one of them – is that the best way to defeat opportunists like Nigel Farage is not to ignore the people marooned on the margins of fashionable discourse, but instead to give them license to “mourn the things they’ve lost”.
And so, we get poems on subjects most image-conscious performers wouldn’t touch with the toe of a vintage Converse trainer, all of them delivered with Wright’s trademark mixture of wit, self-deprecation and humorous half-rhymes.
In Lovejoy, he recalls the warm glow of family evenings spent watching Ian McShane’s antique-dealing, housewife-seducing super-sleuth; in Houses That Used To Be Boozers he laments the fact that five of the ten pubs in his adopted home town of Bungay in Suffolk have been converted into upmarket homes; and in a heartbreaking poem called Sue’s Fourteener he tells the real-life story of a pensioner called Sue – proud of her high-rise Essex sink estate, for all its problems, and determined to keep the annual fête going, even though most of her fellow residents regard it (and her) with total indifference.
He frames his show with two halves of a poem called Essex Lion, in which he imagines the embarrassment felt by the salt-of-the-earth Essex campers who became a laughing stock last summer, when they claimed to have seen a “lion” which turned out to be a cat. Don’t be too quick to mock the little people in the provinces, he seems to say, they don’t deserve it. Oh, and by the way, they also get to decide who runs the country.
Until 26 August. Today 6pm
Originally published in The Scotsman
More info: Luke Wright – Essex Lion is at Assembly George Square