Performance poet Luke Wright recently appeared at Selby Town Hall where he read his poem What I Learned from Johnny Bevan. As reported in the York Press, this was a one- hour performance of the poem which tells
a politically charged story encompassing shattered friendships, class and social ceilings, and the Labour Party’s battle for its soul. At university the whip-smart, mercurial Johnny Bevan saves Nick, smashing his comfortable middle-class bubble and firing him up about politics, music and literature. Twenty years later, as their youthful dreams disintegrate alongside the social justice they had craved, can Nick, now a jaded music journalist, save Johnny from himself?
The book’s description is quoted from the back of its cover. The paper goes on to explain the poem’s roots in Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited:
Luke’s verse play also was informed by one of his favourite books, Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead (soon to be staged at York Theatre Royal incidentally in a new Bryony Lavery adaptation). “I was struck how the middle-class student, Charles Ryder, was fascinated by his upper-class friend, Sebastian Flyte,” he says. “In my piece, the middle-class Nick is fascinated by the brilliant working-class Johnny.”
After performing at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe and in a three-week run at London’s Soho Theatre, Luke will appear later this month in a private performance at the Palace of Westminster for MPs and parliamentary workers and at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre in May.