PUNK ROCK ★★★★
Patalog Theatre, fortyfivedownstairs, until December 15
Simon Stephens’ study of adolescence takes us into a Manchester grammar school, where seven students wait for their final exams. We get a fly-on-the-wall portrayal of teenagers in their natural habitat – a tender, if unflinching, view of the pressures, psychology and behaviour of youth – before the play erupts into a violent climax.
Patalog Theatre brings Punk Rock to life with an ensemble performance of disturbing intimacy. The new indie theatre company is quickly making a name for itself and may be the most stylish and enterprising to come out of Melbourne since The Hayloft Project. The strength of the acting proves a major drawcard.
The performances effortlessly recreate a social pecking order with identifiable types. There’s the class bully, the queen bee, the hot jock, the new girl, the fat girl, the maths nerd. But the actors also express how protean and socially contingent teen identity can be, and however typical these teenagers seem, there’s always the sense of a seven-headed monster lurking underneath.