Muddy reviews: Junkyard
Junkyard isn't your traditional all-singing, all-dancing musical, but this production from some of the hottest names in London theatre is a joy to watch
Written by the talented Jack Thorne, directed by Jeremy Herrin and composed by Stephen Warbeck, Junkyard has some pretty impressive theatre muscle behind it. I had to attend a Shakespeare recital by the eldest Mudlet this week when it showed to the press. But Muddy writer Josh Clarke went along to find out if it lived up to the hype. (Shhh. Don’t tell the Mudlet, but I think he may have got the better deal!)
“Please turn off all mobile phones, the performance is about to begin” stated a steward as we took our seats in Kingston’s Rose Theatre. In a modern world dominated by the likes of social media and Netflix, Headlong Theatre Company’s production of Junkyard serves as a friendly reminder that there are other ways for kids to have fun.
Jack Thorne who is the mastermind behind Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Academy Award winning composer Stephen Warbeck, partnered with Headlong’s Jeremy Herrin, have created a coming of age musical which celebrates the right young people have to become their own individuals through imagination and adventure.
Set in Bristol in 1979, their school disregards Fiz and her band of misfits, simply for coming from more troubled backgrounds, they’re more hassle than they’re worth. They are seen, and see themselves as nothing more than junk. That is until Rick from Walthamstow turns up at the school and invites them to help him build an adventure playground on a plot the headmaster wants a new maths block to be built. It was inspired by the true story behind the Lockleaze playground in Bristol, which Thorne’s father was involved in.
Thorne’s script is genuinely funny and yet extremely poignant while composer Stephen Warbeck’s score gives the show its pulse and fluidity. You feel as though the three part band are just as much a part of the playground as the characters. Chiara Stephenson’s intimate and versatile set was a particular highlight for me. It was a character in itself, with so many different facets and uses. At one point it was used to create a classroom, another to create a front room, the clever yet simple flexibility of the set was a joy to watch, the stage never had a chance to go cold, it was a constant bustle of energy and life.
Performances all round were extremely strong from the 10-man cast however; special mention has to go Erin Doherty’s Fiz. Her childlike energy, directness and comic timing led to her likability and she was particularly engaging to watch. Both Josef Davies (Ginger) and Enyi Okoronkwo (Talc) also excelled in their roles.
Junkyard isn’t your traditional all-singing, all-dancing musical, it’s unglamorous and modest but far more natural. Warbeck’s score is brilliant and has an informal conversational quality to it, which merges well with the dialogue creating a unique piece of story telling. The show takes a while to get going but once it does it will have you smiling throughout.