Showing @ King’s Theatre until 2nd Oct
The focus of teenage mentality has become particularly popular with programmes such as Skins and even Enda Walsh’s play Chatroom which is set to be released as a film this year. However Punk Rock bucks the trend as it does not patronise or speak in hyperbole, instead it depicts all that’s real about school and our experiences in these fragile and turbulent years.
Set against the backdrop of a dominating and arcane library a group of seven teenagers are are dealing with the troubles and struggles of middle-class pressure and the vulnerability of youth. Despite its brutal darkness, the small glimpses of wit are played out beautifully which distract us from the tensions that are subtly put in place. The production is engaging but what strikes the most is its intelligence, both in the script and in the characters. Rarely are we treated to a group of young people who discuss philosophy and politics which such confidence, who are aware of their surroundings and want their intelligence to bring them a better life. Amongst these bright young things is Rupert Simonian who is hauntingly compelling as William Carlisle and holds a performance which underpins the play as a whole. He appears unassuming and bright, but how he deals with rejection from the new girl Lilly (Laura Pyper) and the death of an inspirational teacher triggers a demise which is one of impressive intensity.
Failure and its consequences play in the back of the mind of each character, whether this is failure of exams, failure in love or failure in expectations. The universality of this vulnerability leaves us truly efftected. Simon Stephens’ script tingles with imagination and originality which is coupled with interludes of sharp and obscure music. The walls close in on a claustrophobic and exhausting production which takes us through the bleak and beautiful with unmitigated sophistication.
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