In their Edinburgh Fringe debut the English theatre group The Pigeon Collective presents their interpretation of Simon Stephens‘ play Punk Rock. The drama takes a glimpse inside the world of an expensive private school in Northern England. Set in the school library, it follows the lives of seven A-level students (eight in the original text) trying to deal with the stresses of love, exams and self-confidence issues.
While not boasting an original topic (reminding us of far too many high school-set and coming-of-age pop-cultural products), the play exposes a world of hierarchies and relationships that is far too persistent both in and out of fiction. There will always be bullies like Bennett, traumatised cranks like William, flirtatious enchantresses such as Lily and nerds like Chadwick. Moreover, they are common in pretty much every school worldwide, and in far too many workplaces.
Still, it remains unclear from this version of the play (or maybe it is a drawback in Stephens’ text?) why none of the students dares to oppose the heirarchy in their friends group. Why does no one, except William, dare to stand up to Bennett and his violent way? It’s as if their voluntary refusal of intervention only serves to reaffirm the status quo.
Although the actors are convincing, their characters, apart from William, remain sketchy and superficial, which probably is a result of playwright’s decision or directorial whim rather than the performers’ inability to build multi-layered, plethorical dramatis personae.
Whatever the case is, The Pigeon Collective‘s Punk Rock is brutal, thrilling and quite impressive piece of contemporary dramaturgy that would be of interest to both adolescents and their parents.