Punk Rock and Bassett by Simon Stephens and James Graham
Richmond Shakespeare Society
Mary Wallace Theatre - 27 February 2019
RSS Young Actors Company at The Mary Wallace Theatre, Twickenham until 24th February 2019, then on tour to Malta in July.
Review by Ian Nethersell
Adolescence is a difficult time. We struggle to know who we are and to find our place in the world. There are so many things to understand and think about whilst being influenced by peer groups, looking up to those we idolise, wanting to fit in and being constrained and controlled by the state. Indoctrination and manipulation can be a subtle and passive process as well as ‘in your face’.
James Graham explores this in his play, Bassett, set in the classroom of a modern comprehensive in the town of Wootton Bassett. Needless to say, this theatrical device is a strong metaphor and allows a microcosm of society to be explored in its contrivance. Punk Rock by Simon Stephens is almost a continuation of Bassett. We now see A-level students in a fee-paying grammar school, and whilst coming from different backgrounds, there are similarities with the previous school. This play explores relationships, individualism and uniqueness. These two plays, individually written, became inextricably linked through the vision of the director, Katie Abbott and her assistant director Laura-May Hassan.
The sets were designed and built to give the audience all they need without cluttering the space for the performers – special credits to Jo Moles as designer for achieving a great deal within a small space and Geoff Warren for realising the vision.
We met the young individual characters as very developed and believable individuals, a real credit to the skills of the director and the work put in by the cast. The ensemble gave us wide-ranging characterisations, wholly believable in their delivery.
Ultimately this was a complex and powerful political comment on the impact on the lives of young people today.
Read Ian Nethersell’s full review at www.markaspen.wordpress.com/2019/02/22/punk-bass
Photography courtesy of the RSS Young Actors Company
Complex Comment, Powerful Impact