Punkplay at the Southwark Playhouse
Punk, sexual tension, angst – oh so much angst. This month, the Southwark Playhouse hosts director Tom Hughes’ Punkplay, transporting the audience to 1980s America, a decade delightfully equated in the opening minutes to the “bit of flesh that runs between the anus and the scrotum”. More specifically, the play is entirely set in the bedroom of a teenager called Mickey (Sam Perry), a room he agrees to share with his friend, Duck (Matthew Castle). The relationship between the two boys is at the heart of the performance, for it is fundamentally an adolescent coming-of-age, search-for-identity tale. What gives it its particular flavour is the boys’ fixation with “being punk”, or at least appearing punk, and the honest and often hilarious result of their naïve quest – all done on roller skates to boot. Perry and Castle embody the teenagers perfectly, and the play is worth seeing for their dialogues alone, as it is in these moments that the production is at its strongest; they are clearly in tune with one another, and never miss a beat in their comic timing.
Although less stand-out, the supporting actors Aysha Kala and Jack Sunderland show their versatility, switching between characters including a sexed-up Ronald Reagan (Kala), and a beat-up punk in a wheelchair (Sunderland). Unfortunately, said punk features in a somewhat incongruous episode where Sunderland and Kala both put on what seem to be miscellaneous eastern European accents, not adding much to Punkplay as a whole.
The Playhouse is a small, intimate setting for what is a well-executed love letter to the spirit of punk and adolescence. As a result, no mistake can no unnoticed, and the actors’ skates did cause the odd dubious exit, but hey, punk isn’t meant to be clean and tidy. Indeed, the production team has gone to great lengths to evoke the essence of subculture, right down to the programme which was cut and stuck together by the cast and crew.
Punkplay is certainly good fun, with lots of laugh out loud moments, and will be a joy to anyone who dallied with punk in their youth. For those who didn’t, the central relationship between Mickey and Duck will provide ample fodder for entertainment and reflection. But what are the skates about? You’ll have to see the play to find out.
Punkplay is at the Southwark Playhouse from 7th September until 1st October 2016, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch the trailer for Punkplay here: