What I Learned From Johnny Bevan
Luke Wright is no ordinary Essex boy… for a start he can write, & as he bellows out his tumbling waterfalls of words we soon find that he can write bloody well. Like Carter USM without a guitar, his epic monologue sees his personal pilgrimage through the ideology of punk-poet Johnny Bevan. His story is set against two backdrops – the first being the excellent charcoal sketches of London VJ-d onto the wall behind him, & the second is a thirty-year retrospective of his – & my – zeitgeist. In fact, the way he manages to penetrate my memory mists with his needle-sharp, catalytic mimesi, was amazing – a series of images stitched together that managed to cram three decades of life & popular culture into less than an hour.
Poetically the guy is first rate… flowing freely from form to form, metre to metre, with an imperceptible ease. We get classic iambic pentameters, novel rhymes (student/improvement), the sweet cynghanned of the Welsh Bards & some snappy, rappy free verse that shows off the very best of this guy’s command of his lingua franca. Through his spiky tale, he weaves together dystopian visions of tower blocks with student passions, followed by to the rushing excitements of Britpop & New Labour. From there the internet age dawns, & we see Luke growing into his role as the quadragrammic (quadraphenia meets instagram) mod-poet to perfection. An oratory masterpiece & a time-capsule, this play is classic – although its audience is a generational one, narrowing the scope for its proper reception & understanding. Despite this, just listening to Luke’s energetic wordplay is a cool experience we English-speakers should all enjoy at some point in our lives. FOUR STARS
Reviewer : Damo Bullen