Friday, 18 July 2014

PUNK ROCK by Magpie Drama
Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton

Written by Simon Stephens, this is one hell of a powerful play with a very dramatic ending, which I won't give away if you haven't seen it. Just a shame that the play isn't running longer than the three days that it is being performed at Long Eaton.

The play is set In the library of a grammar school, Seven sixth-formers are preparing for their mock-A Levels and nearing the end of their school lives. There are various sub-plots detailing the various love lives or triangles that emerge through the play and the various characters' personal issues which rear their heads. Dealing with bullying, peer pressure, loss and love among other things, and as you'd expect with a group of teenage characters the language is fruity, to say the least, but is well within the context of the play.

Magpie Drama seem to excel in character driven plays and this is no different with seven extremely different characters to play with. Lily (Jessica Bridge) is the new girl in school and is the catalyst for the explosive ending when she becomes the object of William's affections. William is played by Matthew Biddulph and must be the most challenging role, as an actor, that he has played but boy does he pull off this character with manic conviction.

Bennett is the bully boy who you really do grow to hate with his sadistic mental and physical abuse of the other sixth formers, but again the twist here is spine chilling. Bennett is played by Adam Richmond, who I've been advised is absolutely nothing like the character of Bennett, thank God!

Cissy, played by Rebekah Fearn, is Bennett's girlfriend but that doesn't mean that she is omitted from his bullying.

Nicholas is the "jock" of the piece, a handsome lad, the kind us less than good looking schoolkids envied like mad, who became the boyfriend of new girl Lily, much to the anger of William.Nicholas is played by Jack Eccles.

Tanya is the archetypal school girl who has a crush on the teacher and dreams of bearing her crush's children, and again a bullet in the bully gun for Bennett to fire at her.

And then there is Chadwick Meade, the school swot, the clever one who is always going to be the butt of every bully's jokes. he is on the receiving end of Bennett's mental and physical abuse, degraded by Bennett at every opportunity, but the worm turns and he discovers an inner strength with a powerful speech of his own later in the play. William Rogers plays Chadwick and it's wonderful to note the details that Will puts into Chadwick's character, the little facial expressions as well as the reactions to Bennett's bully tactics. A character piece full of character and as just a juicy role for an actor to play as Bennett's character.

Lucy Francis is a small character in the play, the sister of the bully Bennett, and then the other minor role, but just as important to the plot, is Dr Richard Harvey played by one of the busiest actors, director, singer, film maker in Nottingham and Derbyshire currently, Adam Guest. there must be a clone of Adam somewhere to fit in all of his many projects, either that or he really is Superman.

This is a very clever play which has been directed brilliantly by Rachel Bates and if you look carefully at the play at the end you will see some clever touches like the submissive characters are always pushed to the back and the strong characters always end up near the front. Art reflecting life?

Another great success for a very hard working drama group. You can catch the last performance of "Punk Rock" on Saturday night at the Duchess Theatre in Long Eaton at 7.30. This really is  going to be one of those modern classics.

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