Junkyard – Book & Lyrics by Jack Thorne, Music by Stephen Warbeck
Bristol Old Vic
New musical theatre is relatively easy to find these days but to have the privilege of seeing a gem of this quality sparkling away in Bristol Old Vic is a revelation. This is a show with a massive heart which simply reaches out with a story full of honesty, brutal reality and friendship.
Produced in association with Headlong, BOV, Rose Theatre Kingston and Theatr Clwyd; Jack Thorne has created a tale based loosely on family history and has rooted the story in the development of the Lockleaze Playground in Bristol. Here we watch the creation of the outdoor playground in 1979 a play leader named Rick and his ability to motivate, inspire and channel the energies of a group of “drop out” teenagers written off by the academic world of education.
The urban music from Stephen Warbeck, recreates the era with great sensitivity from company numbers to reflective ballads with a fresh new sound. With vibrant choreography (Polly Bennett) an impressive design (Chiara Stephenson) alongside an atmospheric lighting design (Jack Knowles) they allow the imposing structure to be imposing, fun and terrifying in equal measure.
Erin Dohery (Fiz) as the feisty central character is mesmerising. Her control of proceedings from direct address to the audience to the horrors at the end of Act 1 is utterly engaging. She is definitely missed from the beginnings of Act 2. Scarlett Brookes (Debbie) is a wonderfully needy pregnant teen who with Lisa Palfrey (Mum) create a believable family who are getting by. The boys are equally impressive Calum Callaghan (Rik) the eternally optimistic Play Leader. Josef Davies (Ginger) and Eyi Okoronkwo (Talc) as with all the others are the products of their dysfunctional family backgrounds.
Whilst this production is rooted in Bristol, the issues and the sheer honesty of the writing ensures that it is a tale for anyone anywhere who has been a child and how important it is to have the space to play.
Don’t miss it.
**** – 4 Stars