Somewhere between a rock gig and a play, All We Ever Wanted Was Everything from theatre company Middle Child is set in Hull and follows two kids from different sides of the tracks, both born on the same day, across three decades of their lives.
On the one hand, there’s mummy’s boy Chris (James Stanyer), from a comfortable home, trying to live up to the expectations of his widowed mother (Emma Bright) to go to university and become a psychologist like his dead father, despite his intellectual limitations; whilst Leah (Bryony Davies), the daughter of a bouncer (Joshua Meredith), deserted by his wife, longs for the things she can never have: a bigger house, a university education, a good job.
From 1987’s Thatcherite, through Britpop, Blair and 9/11, to the present day of Trump and Brexit, the action surrounds the hopes and thwarted dreams of Chris (James Stanyer) and Leah (Bryony Davies), which threaten to derail both their lives.
Their parents meet over the buying of a Harry Potter book and they become friends for a day but circumstances and class prevent the relationships from blossoming into anything more, until their worlds collide, like an asteroid, some 30 years later.
Marc Graham as a hilarious kohl-eyed, tight-jeans-wearing rockstar, reminiscent of a young Mick Jagger, weaves the action together ably, acting as the narrator and MC. Accompanying songs have been composed by James Frewer and are played by performers on guitars, drums, keyboard and vocals, who also serve as additional characters in the piece.
The songs provide an anthem, conveying the relevant periods and developing the story, as the two lives of Chris and Leah are charted at ten-year intervals. Amusing cultural references, like the Nokia 5110 and oven baked Smiley Faces, provide a nostalgic narrative, whilst undertones of Britpop and Indie music puts the story into an era of times long past, yet still remembered.
Loud and somewhat frenetic, there’s a real energy and pace to this piece of gig-theatre. It’s brilliantly conceived and performed, offering us an ironic reflection on an oh-so-familiar story. It’s all about lost dreams and the consumerism that can derail our lives. On the one hand, we wish for the simplicity of the lives our parents lived, whilst our parents dream for the lives we have, with all the freedom, opportunities and technology. We want everything and nothing at the same time.