Frankie Vah by Luke Wright

Luke Wright has been performing spoken word on the Fringe circuit for years, winning a dedicated following for his catalogue of smart, catchy polemics. But with Frankie Vah, he's managed to craft a gorgeously-worded powerhouse of a play, in one of the only verse dramas that could claim to get a crowd cheering and stamping their feet throughout. Again.

Smart, sharp-tongued, and dripping with insight

The description above is as applicable to his last play, What I learned from Johnny Bevan, which scooped a Fringe First award (amongst several others) in 2015 and showed Wright had a lot more than sharp three-minute poems up his sleeve. Both shows share a similarly young, university-age protagonist coming of age and fuelling their love for poetry, while deftly weaving in plenty of incisive political commentary. But Frankie Vah is very much its own beast and never runs out of steam, skipping from line to rhyme with an intimate, over-the-counter charm and unpretentious passion.

Set in 1987, the show is unapologetically nostalgic, wheeling out Wright in the trademark black boots and Harrington jacket of the punk era, with wistful shots of Doc Marten's projected onto the back wall. ("Only good girls wear Doc Marten's. Or fascists.")

Set between Essex, London, and a series of politically-charged gigs across the country, the show is packed with memorable characters, as rounded and complete in a few lines as another writer might achieve in several pages. Whether interacting with Frankie's conservative vicar father, artist girlfriend, or colourful tour members, Wright combines an infectious ferocity and rock-star glamour with a wincing awareness of his own youthful naivety (as a man in his mid-thirties, he's surprisingly believable as a 20-year-old).

Though the monologue is delivered in a light, playful verse, the backbone of the show is when protagonist Frankie takes to the mic himself, railing furiously against the 1980s Thatcherite government and the civil war engulfing Labour's ranks. The connection to recent party turmoil is clear, and Frankie's political disagreements with his father, friends, and party manage to feel fiercely urgent while being decades old. There are plenty of light-hearted jokes throughout – deftly breaking the tension of terse confrontations – but Wright refuses to stop short at easy caricatures, pushing on to a deeper understanding of those on the other side of the political spectrum, even as Frankie struggles with this realisation himself.

Smart, sharp-tongued, and dripping with insight, Luke Wright may be the only poet at Fringe you can't afford to miss.

Reviews by Henry St Leger

Pleasance Dome

Police Cops in Space

★★★★
Underbelly, Cowgate

Frankie Vah by Luke Wright

★★★★★
Summerhall

A Hundred Different Words for Love

★★★★★
Bush Theatre

Guards at the Taj

★★★★★
Camden People's Theatre

Beta Public V

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

We all want something to believe in. It's 1987 and Frankie Vah gorges on love, radical politics, and skuzzy indie stardom. But can he keep it all down? Following the multi award-winning What I Learned From Johnny Bevan, Luke Wright's second verse play deals with love, loss and belief, against a backdrop of grubby indie venues and 80s politics. Expect frenetic guitars, visceral verse, and a Morrissey-sized measure of heartache. Written and performed in deft verse by Fringe First and Stage Award for Acting Excellence winner Luke Wright. 'Pulsating, poetic story-telling' **** (Lyn Gardner, Guardian).

Most Popular See More

Dear Evan Hansen

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Matilda the Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Phantom of the Opera

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £12.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Come From Away

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets