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Monday, December 9

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Theatre Thu Feb 11 2010

Pavement Group's punkplay Turns Boys To Men

Everyone can relate to having that adolescent moment when they discover a life-changing type of music, and punkplay zeroes in on that slice of life for a couple of kids named Duck and Mickey.

"It's a play about two sort of marginal adolescent boys growing up in the suburbs who sort of latch on to punk rock and use it to find an identity outside of the mainstream," said New England playwright Gregory Moss, whose punkplay comes to Chicago as a Pavement Group production, part of Steppenwolf Theatre Company's new Visiting Company Initiative, Garage Rep.

When the two boys - played by Alexander Lane and Matt Farabee under the direction of Pavement Group's founding artistic director David Perez - have trouble adapting, bands like Black Flag and Sonic Youth give them a path to self-discovery. It's not a music-as-salvation story, though.

"It's more about how a subculture could affect the lives of some very average, normal kids," Moss said. The play links America's culturally right-leaning bent at the time with the history of punk, a timeline that starts anti-establishment but grows its own canons. "These counter-culture movements can become just as repressive as the thing they were trying to defy. I'm not cynical about it, but I think it's strange when you hear a Ramones song being used to sell a car for whatever reason."

It also weaves in the time when a boy becomes a man. "The music, it's not about the technique and it can feel very adolescent," Moss said. It's incongruous, he added, that punk can come off just as macho and wardrobe-restricted as the mainstream.

There's punk music in the show, but it's not a musical or a review - a choice Moss made so he could tell the story without using music as a tool.

"It's a little bit perverse on my part, but I like seeing the impact of the music rather than hearing the music itself," Moss said. "It's in the language, it's in the dialogue. The music is in the dialogue. I'd rather translate the music into theater than try to illustrate the music."

Punkplay opens for previews Feb. 18, and rotates with a repertory that includes Adore by XIII Pocket and The Twins Would Like to Say by Dog & Pony Theatre Company. The show will be held in the Merle Reskin Garage Theatre, 1624 N. Halsted. Tickets are $20 and available here or by calling 312-335-1650. Student tickets are $12 and every Wednesday performance is "pay what you can."

 
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