• Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

Fringe 2023: Luke Wright’s Silver Jubilee

ByLucy Jackson

Aug 14, 2023
Luke Wright

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This show is the best exploration of love, family and belonging I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. 

Luke Wright is a performer and poet who has been at the forefront of the spoken-word scene for the last 25 years – and Silver Jubilee is, as the title might suggest, a brazen celebration of this.

The performance starts with an upbeat brit-pop number chanting “Luke Wright, Luke Wright, Silver Jubilee!” as Wright runs on stage, making the audience clap along cheerfully.

You might expect the whole show to continue like this (after all, we are here to cheer him on), but as Wright considers his time in the business, he begins to enter a much deeper exploration of his own identity; how he feels as a father, a husband, a son, and as someone who was adopted at five weeks old.

Wright explores his feelings around his own adoption through the lens of univocalism (a way of thinking developed by a group of French poets called the OULIPO), by writing a poem that only contained one vowel. 

SPAD was striking to me – how difficult it must be to write a poem that contains one vowel (this sentence alone has used all the vowels so far), but also to make it convey a deeper sense of corruption and sadness that I wasn’t expecting. 

His alignment with univocalism continued as he created seven poems around the notion that his birth mother did not know she was pregnant until she gave birth, alone in the house, as a way of processing and making sense of it.

An honourable mention must also go to Wright’s two cats, as two poems explored his relationship with them and their dependency upon each other.

One of his cats was characterised as the archetypal starving poet who suffers for art. The second poem posited this cat and Wright as mirror images of each other (both adopted at a young age, one of them suffering more seriously with litter box issues than the other) – yet despite their difficult circumstances and the lasting impact of these, this only brings them closer together, with the last line of the poem bringing a tear to the eye, “Let’s write this next poem together, Dad!”.

There were a few minor technical issues with the sound, but this honestly made no difference and arguably made the show even funnier; Wright struggled with the tech to get the sound working, to then play only two seconds of drum and bass music when it eventually did start working again.

Even the smallest of details had the most attention and care put into them; for example, the music that played as you walked in was Blur’s The Ballad, a deeply moving and lyrical song (Wright previously told me that Damon Albarn’s lyrics are a huge influence on his work).

The most striking part for me was Wright’s deep love for his wife, shown in Later Life Letter and Honeymoon at Weybourne. The calmness and peace he expresses is unlike anything I have felt before when reading poetry – it felt like I had gained a new perspective on life, and I’m a better person for it.

Adoption is belonging. This is a key message throughout Wright’s performance – and it is evident that Wright feels gratitude for the life he ended up living, and the people (and cats) he surrounds himself with.

Ultimately, the show is a reflection on the whole essence of family; what it means to love and to be loved by others, how wonderful it is to be loved, and how the concept of family and belonging can and does change over time.

If there is anything you see at this year’s Fringe, please let it be this.

Luke Wright’s Silver Jubilee is showing at Pleasance Dome (10Dome) until August 15 at 14:55.

By Lucy Jackson

President of The Student.