‘Punkplay’ by Gregory S. Moss has opened at the Southwark Playhouse, and is part of Punk London, celebrating 40 years of subversive culture. Directed by Tom Hughes this production is a fast-paced, no holds barred look back to 80’s America and follows the friendship of ‘Mickey’ and ‘Duck,’ two teenage boys, who failing to fit in anywhere else turn to Punk Rock, only to discover the era has already passed them by.
The staging of ‘Punkplay’ is simple but effective, a 1980’s style bedroom made up of only a boom box and a record player is the opening scene. ‘Xanadu’ plays as the audience takes their seats, a discreet nod to one of the central characteristics of the play.
Just four actors make up the cast, with the two leads on stage almost continuously. Sam Perry plays ‘Mickey,’ a repressed geek who slowly evolves into the teenage rebel. Perry confidently takes on this evolution and delivers it with ease.
Matthew Castle plays ‘Duck,’ this character is arguably already a tear-away teen and is responsible for leading ‘Mickey’ on a new path. Castle is undoubtedly talented and amplifies the teenage angst throughout the show. Performing on roller skates, playing drums and guitar as well as delivering the demanding dialogue means this pair of young actors make the entire show totally absorbing.
Aysha Kala and Jack Sunderland complete the cast, both playing many different roles and adding depth to the production with their versatility. At its core ‘Punkplay’ is about teenage rebellion and friendship, over the course of ninety minutes we explore the highlights of two boys teenage years set against the backdrop of the tumultuous 1980’s, but overall it’s a talented and committed cast that ultimately brings the whole show together.
The structure is most easily described as a series of vignettes rather than a flowing narrative, but this is clearly by design. We do not look back on our teenage years and see them as a fully formed story. Instead, we remember snapshots and piece them together. ‘Punkplay’ is like looking through a photo album; we remember the garish furnishings and dodgy hairstyles, but we can’t go back and do it all again, however much we might want to.