Luke Wright returns to the Fringe with Frankie Vah, the coming of age tale of an aspiring poet casting aside the religion and rigidity of his father for London, lager, romance and social justice. The piece is set in 1987, but little knowledge of the politics of the time is necessary. Wright delivers them clearly and concisely, with a potent blend of anger, optimism, despair and ecstasy so heartfelt and clear, it is impossible not to be swept up in Frankie’s venomous tirades against Thatcher and his increasing disillusionment with the Labour party he holds so dear.
Frankie’s disdain for the Conservative government, and his frustration with those in Labour willing to (in his view) compromise with a safer, less idealistic leader, draws frequent parallels to the divisive political landscape of 2017, as does the alluded gap in ideals between generations. We briefly inhabit a world where the likes of John Cooper Clarke and The Smiths (yet to disband) reign supreme, the NME is still regarded as cutting edge gospel, and a pair of Doc Martins signified either a good guy or a fascist – usually a good guy.
Wright is at the top of his game when he is behind a microphone, performing ‘rant’ poetry as Frankie, breathless and wide eyed, delivering saw toothed one-liners in rapid-fire to an enraptured Edinburgh audience.
Frankie Vah is let down by a predictable plot, and the very same enthusiasm and sentimentality that endears the audience to the protagonist also becomes fairly heavy-handed at times. That being said, this is a play written and delivered with heart and is worth seeing for the character of Petey White (“you’ve probably heard of me”) alone.
Words: Fraser MacIntyre
Frankie Vah by Luke Wright, Underbelly Cowgate, Aug 15-27, 9.20pm