Punk rocks the Playhouse in comedy premiere

Tuesday 12th May 2009

Anarchy returns to the UK and shakes up four suburban lives in a brand new comedy from Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company. Punk rides again in GARAGE BAND by the award-winning Nottingham-based playwright Andy Barrett. At a time of renewed interest in punk and its late-70s heyday, the play asks whether it was the last truly significant cultural movement this country has seen – and finds its furious energy still surging through the veins of a group of fortysomething friends. Pulsing to the hits of The Damned, The Clash, The Sex Pistols and many more, this world premiere production is directed by Giles Croft, the Playhouse’s Artistic Director, and designed by Helen Fownes-Davies. The show spotlights the comic and musical skills of Playhouse regulars Robin Kingsland (Rat Pack Confidential, The Price) and John Elkington (a star of numerous Playhouse pantomimes), as well as Mark Jardine (Emmerdale, Control) and Sukie Smith (Peak Practice, EastEnders).

GARAGE BAND, which contains strong language, runs from Friday 5 to Saturday 20 June (Press Night: Tuesday 9 June) and is sponsored by the marketing firm Perspektiv Group. Tickets are available from our website or from the Box Office 0115 941 9419.

Old punks never die; they just end up with jobs, mortgages and responsibilities like the rest of us. Gavin, Penny, Danny and Alan all found their teenage kicks in punk rock. But that was over 30 years ago, and now they are all trapped in a middle-aged, commuter-belt rut – until they come together to form a covers band. Maturing from three-chord thrashers into a blistering live outfit, they find their lives reinvigorated. Soon, however, recreating the anarchy of their youth becomes more than some of them can handle and inevitably tensions arise with the group… With many of punk’s greatest hits played live by the cast, the show has in-built appeal to everyone with the slightest dose of punk in their past or present, but will be enjoyed just as much by anyone who has ever tested the bonds of friendship or sought to inject some new passion into their life.

Based in Nottingham, playwright Andy Barrett is co-Artistic Director of community theatre company Hanby and Barrett, which creates site-specific theatre throughout the region. He is also a Sony Award-winning radio dramatist whose works for BBC Radio 4 include The Perfect Wood starring Geoffrey Palmer and the recent adaptation of Gulliver’s Travels and His Farther Adventures, starring Tim McInnerny. Andy is the writer of the Amnesty Award-nominated play for New Perspectives, The Allotment, and of Nottingham Playhouse’s 2003 production The Day That Kevin Came, also directed by Giles Croft.

The year 2009 marks the tenth anniversary of Giles Croft’s Directorship at Nottingham Playhouse, during which period the theatre’s recognition as a major producer of new and diverse work has continued to grow. His commissions have included plays about Philippe Petit and Brian Clough which anticipated recent feature film successes, while his own productions include Rat Pack Confidential, Chicken Soup with Barley, All Quiet on the Western Front and The Price, all of which have also enjoyed acclaim beyond Nottingham. Before launching a theatrical career which previously included major posts at the Gate, the National Theatre and Watford Palace, Giles found early success managing Bath’s first punk club.

In GARAGE BAND Robin Kingsland plays Gavin, the driving force behind the group, who came close to breakthrough success with his first punk band as a youth and whose life undergoes the most radical transformation of the four friends now. Robin is no stranger to Playhouse audiences, having adapted All Quiet on the Western Front as well as taking leads in Rat Pack Confidential, I Have Been Here Before and The Price. Having originated the role of Charlie Molloy in Steven Berkoff’s production of On the Waterfront in Nottingham last year, he recently resumed the part during its acclaimed West End run.

Equally familiar to thousands of Playhouse attenders is John Elkington, whose character Alan projects punk into the era of viral videos and cyberspace avatars and thus plays a critical role in the band’s growing success. John has notched up ten appearances in Kenneth Alan Taylor’s much-loved pantomimes, with roles including several Dames and most recently, Abanaza in Kenneth’s record-breaking 25th Playhouse panto Aladdin. He will return in the forthcoming Beauty and the Beast.

Mark Jardine plays Danny, an academic who may just become the first punk professor but whose career fillip and new baby make it hard to maintain his commitment to the band. Making his first appearance at Nottingham Playhouse, Mark is perhaps best known as series regular Phil Weston in ITV’s Emmerdale, but also has enormous experience in musical theatre, including a production of Blood Brothers in which it so happens he played opposite Robin Kingsland. He recently made his movie debut in Control, the acclaimed biopic of Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis, filmed in Nottingham.

Band member Penny, who has cause for mixed feelings about her first fling with punk but relishes the vitality it restores to her life now, is played by Sukie Smith. Another Playhouse newcomer, Sukie already has connections with the East Midlands through her role as Kirsty Attwood in two series of Peak Practice; she will also be recognised as Rachel Branning from EastEnders. Alongside many other theatre and television appearances, Sooki has true musical credibility as a composer and songwriter and as lead singer in the noir band Madam.

The soundtrack to GARAGE BAND is a roll-call of punk’s greatest hits, many of them played live and loud on stage: songs like New Rose by The Damned, I Fought the Law by The Clash and Ever Fallen in Love by the Buzzcocks to name just three. Alongside the better-known numbers, the show unearths buried treasure in the song Dead to Me by little-remembered punk band Grunt. Charged with moulding the cast into a convincing band during a four-week rehearsal period is Musical Director John Morton, more commonly seen in the orchestra pit as MD of the last 21 Playhouse pantomimes.

Designer Helen Fownes-Davies brings her characteristic ingenuity to GARAGE BAND with a set that includes a cunning double revolve, following previous collaborations with Giles Croft on The Man Who, I Have Been Here Before and Whisky Galore! Alexandra Stafford contributes the Lighting, and the remaining members of the creative team are Sound Designer Ciaron McKenna, Video Director Barret Hodgson and Dialect Coach Sally Hague.