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Thursday, 12 October 2017

REVIEW: Goth Weekend at Newcastle Live Theatre



“Isn’t Goth for people who are too old for Emo?”

The Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, and Live Theatre, Newcastle, present a co-production of the world premiere of
Goth Weekend

Newcastle Live Theatre
Wednesday 11th October to Saturday 28th October 2017

Written by Ali Taylor
Directed by Paul Robinson
Cast: Jessica Johnson, Sean McKenzie, Gurjeet Singh, and Amy Trigg
Designer: Helen Coyston
Lighting Designer: Tigger Johnson
Sound Design: Paul Stear
Casting Director: Sarah Hughes


Part sit-com, part kitchen sink drama with lashings of gothic music culture, Goth Weekend succeeds at looking at odd family life, fitting in and trying to stand out.
 
Photo: Tony Bartholomew
As the audience take there seats Belinda (Jessica Johnson) is setting up her guitar and her son Simon, or Bram as he is known in the scene, is sorting out his keyboard. Belle Époque, as the gothic cabaret covers/interpretations band is known open up with Siouxsie & The Banshees’ Spellbound which sets the tone for the evening.
 
Photo: Tony Bartholomew
Photo: Tony Bartholomew
The Scarborough gig has just attracted 5 people in the back room of a pub but, fortunately, one of the promoters of Whitby’s Goth Weekend has spotted them in action and offers them a gig. It isn’t a big gig, Belinda’s old band is headlining at the much bigger Pavilion, but a small gig is better than no gig. Elsewhere in the Scarborough pub widower Ken (Sean McKenzie) is awaiting a date organised by his daughter Anna (Amy Trigg). He is uncomfortable with the whole idea of dating but his 15 year old daughter is trying to boost his confidence. The date doesn’t arrive, they’ve gone to the wrong pub, but Belinda appears and she wants a drink and company - as she isn’t going to take no for an answer.

 
Photo: Tony Bartholomew
Photo: Tony Bartholomew
We are then seeing the reaction of the two families to this rather conscious coupling. The stakes are raised when the gothic pair move temporarily from their Gateshead home to Scarborough to share Ken’s home whilst they prepare for a few local gigs. Schoolgirl Anna is finding it hard to adjust to the new housemates whilst Simon of Ken’s efforts and fist-bumps.
 
Photo: Tony Bartholomew
Writer Ali Taylor has spent some time observing the Whitby Goths and has some appreciation of the internal conflict between sub-sets within the culture. There is also the conflict between Goths and those outside of the culture. But there is more to Goth Weekend than the battle between the Saturday Goths and those who totally immerse themselves in the scene. The show also finds plenty of material from the normal problems found in family life, especially when parents split up or a partner dies.

Photo: Tony Bartholomew
The show doesn’t get too heavy and there are plenty of laughs. Jessica Johnson channels her inner Rick Mayall in her flamboyant reaction to the other characters. Gurjeet Singh comically recoils in horror at Ken’s attempts to fit in. Sean McKenzie captures a man who is trying too hard well.
 
Photo: Tony Bartholomew
Photo: Tony Bartholomew
Each scene is often segued into the next with some classic 80s goth music. It is a while since I heard the Damned’s Eloise. The music choice is more at the mainstream/chart hit side of the scene. No Cold In Berlin here.

Photo: Tony Bartholomew
Photo: Tony Bartholomew
The show is well performed and the comic moments punctuate the family drama. The way to fit in is to wear the accepted uniform - and this is examined at length. On the whole Paul Robinson has directed a worthwhile show that is worth a trip to Live Theatre to see. A couple of the sadder scenes suffer from the classic stage dilemma of pace versus pathos and a few minutes could easily be trimmed off for a leaner show. That said, this was a great collaboration between Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre and Newcastle’s Live Theatre.
 
Photo: Tony Bartholomew
Goth Weekend is a comedy about the music scene that goes beyond the obvious Goth scene. It is a delightful frolic across the harbour with some likeable characters and a great cast.

Review by Stephen Oliver
 
Photo: Tony Bartholomew
Events:
Free events at Live Theatre include a Meet the Writer post show talk after the 2pm show on Saturday 14 October, a Goth Weekend Party after the 7.30pm show on Saturday 14 October; a Meet the Cast post show talk after the show on Tuesday 17 October (both the performance and talk are BSL signed that evening); a post show talk on Goth Identities and Sub Cultures after the 7.30pm show on Thursday 19 October and a Hallowe’en Fancy Dress Closing Party after the 7.30pm show on Saturday 28 October. Events are free for ticket holders for the performance on that day.

Photo: Tony Bartholomew
Tickets:
Tickets are £10-£22, concessions from £6. For more information or to book tickets visit www.live.org.uk or contact Live Theatre’s Box Office on (0191) 232 1232.

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