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Theatre Thu Mar 04 2010

Garage Rep's punkplay: Angry, Loud, Perverse

Punkplay_0029.JPG

Pavement Group's
production of punkplay namedrops Iggy, Rollins, Sid and Danzig, but an elitist punk would definitely take umbrage to this representation of his counterculture. For the rest of us, though, it's an accurate snapshot of how the world sees punk: angry, loud and perverse.

The show's illustrated - too infrequently - with punk anthems like Fear's Let's Have a War and The Ramones' Beat on the Brat, though New England playwright Gregory Moss specifically left out a lot of music, letting the dialogue tell his story.

The show's got some great scenes, including tripped out PeeWee's Playhouse type sequence, and it doesn't shy away from sex or violence. There's sometimes a disconnect between Moss's script, based on his own experience with punk, and how it comes off on stage. For example, calling a punk a cop - the C-word of the anti-establishment - might mean fisticuffs in the real world, but when it's from the bubblegum mouth of a kid in a tight T-shirt and rollerskates, it comes off like a minor threat.

Alexander Lane's Duck checks in a little closer to reality than fresh-faced Matt Farabee as Mickey, but the two tell a believable story about alternative scenes harboring the same rules and regulations as any establishment. They look driven more by fashion than a bass line, though. Closer to the truth are Tanya McBride and Keith Neagle, double-cast as Montreal crust punks and local scenesters. McBride's especially good as an eyelined punker who helps truckers pop boners via Tropic of Cancer.

Part of Steppenwolf Theatre Company's new Visiting Company Initiative, Garage Rep, the opening dialogue describes punk as "the skeleton of music ... hot and fast and angry and alive." That matches the minimalist set that, like the show's costumes and relationships, gets dirtier and more complicated throughout.

Bravo to the genius spray painting that labels everything from adult videos to the seasons, and to the ring-around-the-collar-stained band shirts. The costuming is dead on, too (another thing for an elitist to sniff at), and even though director David Perez's choice to keep the cast in rollerskates through the 75-minute show isn't exactly hardcore, it does have a certain Doc Martens feel to it.

punkplay might not lift the veil from this faster/louder/faster world, but it's probably the closest the theater world will ever get.

punkplay rotates with a repertory that includes Adore by XIII Pocket and The Twins Would Like to Say by Dog & Pony Theatre Company. The show goes up 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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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »

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