Punkplay accurately depicts that period of awkwardness, rebellion, discovery: that time in life where not only the destination is unknown but the precise location of the protagonist at any given time is a mystery to all. Punkplay meanders through the standard topics of sexuality, drugs, individual expression and antidisestablishmentarianism. But there’s a twist.
The rules are- there are no fucking rules. You need to eat, drink water, sleep now and then, the rest is negotiable.
Punkplay is currently playing its UK premiere season at the Southwark Theatre in London. Written by Gregory S Moss it was first produced in 2009 by Clubbed Thumb for Summerworks, a New York festival for funny and provocative new plays.
Moss says in the programme notes that he was compelled to write this play from impulses based on his own adolescence. This is a coming of age play. It is about that right of passage common to all. It is familiar to the whole adult audience regardless of demographics. The details may differ but the kernel of the experience is universal.
This play accurately depicts that period of awkwardness, rebellion, discovery: that time in life where not only the destination is unknown but the precise location of the protagonist at any given time is a mystery to all. Punkplay meanders through the standard topics of sexuality, drugs, individual expression and antidisestablishmentarianism.
There’s a twist: the cast perform the play on rollerskates. Director Tom Hughes describes this as a metaphor for innocence.
Early scenes in the play establish Duck, played by Matthew Castle and Mickey, Sam Perry, foundng a friendship that seems based on being fellow geeks. Punk music is the bond that holds their burgeoning friendship together, just as punk music was the voice of punks everywhere from the beginnings of the movement in the 1970s.
The action takes place in Duck’s bedroom. It’s a naturalistic set fundamentally, created by Cecile Tremolieres, and suits the era of vinyl albums, composite cassettes and the threat of military schools for wayward youths. Mickey arrives under such a threat and stays with his friend for the duration of the action.
Castle and Perry emanate innocence. At times, however, their portrayal is a little contrived and the workings are allowed to show, but in the main each of these actors settle into the play and the situations become more real.
Matthew Castle is engaging and warm as the ‘boy next door’ who has enthusiasm for life and the future. Likewise Sam Perry presents Mickey as an endearing boy struggling to find his identity. Both actors play their own punk music on drums and guitar with zeal and love of the genre.
Following the early scenes with the two boys there are seemingly random introductions of characters who influence the boys. Aysha Kala plays several roles including a love interest and Jack Sunderland appears as one of the popular boys at school. Kala and Sunderland pair up in another scene to play displaced immigrants.
This play will appeal to those who enjoy the coming of age theme. There is enough chaos and humour to satisfy but it is the last five minutes that holds the key: the explanation of the course of the narrative.
The mechanics of what happens might be questionable – why is the voice from the record no longer disembodied? – but watching Castle as realisation and awareness dawns is priceless.