Sid has come a long way since its 15-minute slot, part of One Festival at The Space. Scott Le Crass’ collaboration with playwright Leon Fleming transformed the short play and the 50-minute developed work is onstage at the studio space of the Arts Theatre – reflecting the creative team’s collaborative effort.
When I first read the 15-minute piece, Ode to Sid, I was immediately engaged with Craig and identified with some of his struggles. Being a young person in a world where you don’t know who you are and feeling that you are not understood can manifest itself in various destructive ways. I understood Craig’s bravado, but I felt that I really connected with his vulnerability.
Despite the short-lived career of Sex Pistols, Craig (played by Dario Coates) not only idolizes Punk but he is in awe of Sid Vicious, the 21-year-old bass guitarist from Lewisham who died from a heroin overdose in 1979. His death occurred during his time on bail, awaiting trial for allegedly murdering his girlfriend Nancy Spungen.
During the last year, there has been an increase in the numbers of monologues across our stages. Sid follows the success of works such as Iphegenia in Splott. Leon Fleming – a three-time winner of the Jersey Art Trust – represents life in an economically challenged town. With the action set in a bedroom, the audience are able to connect with Craig on a personal level.
This one-man play guides you through a young man’s world that crumbles when his girlfriend leaves for university. Now abandoned by the very person who distracted him from his troubles, how is he to face life? Challenged with class differences and having to defend ‘real punk’, Craig’s helplessness is accentuated by Coates’ performance. He amalgamates inexperience with vulnerability. Craig steps up throughout the play, emulating punk attitude whilst reflecting his personal cynicism.
One man/woman shows can be difficult to stage yet Coates challenges these preconceptions. He elevates proceedings with his emotional representation of Craig.
The teenage Craig’s fascination with Vicious takes a life of its own. Instead of focusing on Punk, he carries Vicious with him; his protector will keep him from harm. And in return, he will not stand for any disrespect. He has a girlfriend and together they will rage against the norms and live happily – they are no Sid and Nancy. And this is the beginning of Craig’s many contradictions.
The fast pace ensures momentum and Craig’s anguish builds and flows. Coates keeps the audience engaged, however the writing becomes predictable with stereotypes of Southern students.
The first half drives the play; the second half merely repeats Craig’s grief. The developed script, instead of revealing Craig’s past, comes across as an extension rather than an organic whole.
Coates, however, is the star of this experience. He carries the momentum of Fleming’s play to the end. Breaking the fourth wall is not a problem, he looks directly at each member of the audience; questioning, allowing, his eyes beg for sympathy. Who is he? Why is he here? Where is the one person who created him?
On a day in which ‘Brangelina’ is breaking news, the obsession towards celebrity culture reflects the current state in which the likes of Craig exist. Sid is a play about the prosperity of our society’s future as much as the attention paid to lives of star quality.
LWL Entertainment and 5pound5 have excelled in transforming a short play into something that stands shoulder to shoulder with Green Day’s American Idiot, playing on Arts Theatre’s main stage (which probably adds to Craig’s dismay).