Punk Rock

by Simon Stephens; dir Gennie Holmes
Criterion Theatre, Earlsdon, Coventry
23  – 25 February 2012


The theatre’s youth group get an airing on the main stage in this play set in among the sixth form of a private school in Stockport and they are to be commended for a bold choice. Amidst the trappings of adolescent love, bullying and exams is a story about boiling over explosively. There is an early indication that it is going to be bullied-boy Chadwick (Ben Lancashire) who this is going to happen to but, although he does ‘turn’, he does so rather eloquently, if bleakly.

Ben played this character well, most notably in respect of taking the time that his lines deserved. Sadly this was not generally true and most of the cast appeared to be in a race to get their lines out as quickly as possible. This not only made comprehension difficult but pulled the rug out somewhat from the build to the explosive climax. Granted the cast are young and inexperienced and may have been a bit nervous, but the director needed to make clear the difference between speed and pace and the effectiveness of pauses.

One of the effects of this is that the later-exploding character William (Pete Meredith), who was and should have been played as quite jumpy and unpredictable, didn’t stand out as such among the others. This is a shame as Pete was particularly good when William ‘flipped’, but much of the shock of this was watered down by the earlier rush.

All of this shouldn’t detract from credit where it is due. This is a clearly a talented bunch of youngsters (plus one adult, Pete Gillam, playing a marvellously calm and understated psychiatrist in the last scene). With a bit more nurturing and development, it bodes well for the coming generation of young Criterion regulars.


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