Teen Nihilism Erupts in L.A. Premiere of Fierce, Funny PUNK ROCK by Simon Stephens

What happens when kids have the world at their feet, and its weight on their shoulders? Odyssey Theatre Ensemble presents the Los Angeles premiere of Punk Rock, a ferociously funny, complex and unnerving play by Tony Award-winning playwright Simon Stephens (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time) that peels back the layers of teen angst for a deeper look at what might make one of them snap. Lisa James directs for a March 25 opening at the Odyssey Theatre.

As seven teens at an English prep school tangle with the pressures of love, sex, bullying and college entrance exams, the confusion, disconnect and latent savagery simmering beneath the surface is revealed. They are intelligent, articulate and accomplished - the cream of the crop turning sour.

"The play's pulsing, driving rhythm, like the music of the title, is what makes it so exciting" says James. "The characters are incredibly complex. Each one is hateful and cruel, but also loving and kind. Their hormones are raging, so they're out of control. It's a cacophony of emotion."

Punk Rock's electrifying cast of young newcomers features Jacob B. Gibson, Zachary Grant, Nick Marini, Raven Scott, Kenney Selvey, Story Slaughter and Miranda Wynne.

The creative team includes set designer John Iacovelli; lighting designer Brian Gale; Sound Designer Christopher Moscatiello; costume designer Halei Parker; fight choreographer MATTHEW GLAVE; and dialect coach Anne Burk. Sally Essex-Lopresti and Ron Sossi produce for Odyssey Theatre Ensemble.

Based on Stephens' experiences as a teacher and inspired by the 1999 Columbine shooting, Punk Rock premiered at London's Royal Exchange in 2009, then transferred to the Lyric Hammersmith. The play opened off-Broadway in 2014 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in an MCC Theater production that Ben Brantley of The New York Times called "tender, ferocious and frightening."

Simon Stephens is an associate artist of the Lyric Hammersmith and The Royal Court Theatre. His many other plays include Carmen Disruption; Heisenberg; Birdland; Blindsided; Three Kingdoms; Wastwater; Seawall; Pornography; Country Music; Christmas; Herons; A Thousand Stars Explode in the Sky (co-written with Robert Holman and David Eldridge); an adaptation of Jon Fosse's I Am the Wind; and Motortown. His version of A Doll's House for the Young Vic transferred to the West End and then New York. His new translation of The Threepenny Opera ran last fall at the National Theatre. His other plays for the NT include Port, Harper Regan and On the Shore of the Wide World, which received the Olivier Award for Best New Play. His stage adaptation of Mark Haddon's novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time received both the Olivier Award and the Tony Award for Best Play.

Director Lisa James is a multi-award winner for her work on Heartstopper (LA Weekly Award), Palladium is Moving (Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award), Lynn Siefert's Little Egypt, Wendy MacLeod's The Water Children (LADCC and Garland Awards), Justin Tanner's Bitter Women (LADCC Award) and The Visible Horse (LADCC and Garland Awards). World premieres include Beth Henley's Tight Pants, Billy Aaronson's The News, Justin Tanner's Oklahomo! and Little Egypt-The Musical (music/lyrics by Gregg Lee Henry) at both the Matrix Theater in L.A. and Acorn Theatre in NYC. She most recently directed the West Coast premiere of Smoke by Kim Davies at Rogue Machine and End Days at the Odyssey Theatre, and is currently developing the new musical That Was Then.

Performances of Punk Rock take place March 25 through May 14 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.Additional weeknight performances are scheduled on Wednesday, April 12; Thursday, April 27 and Wednesday, May 3, all at 8 p.m. Tickets are $34 on Saturdays and Sundays; $30 on Fridays; and $25 on Wednesdays and Thursdays, with discounted tickets available for students and members of SAG/AFTRA/AEA. There will be three "Tix for $10" performances on Friday, March 31; Friday, April 28; and Wednesday, May 3. Post-performance discussions are scheduled on Wednesday, April 12 and Friday, April 28. The third Friday of every month is wine night at the Odyssey: enjoy complimentary wine and snacks and mingle with the cast after the show.

The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025. For reservations and information, call (310) 477-2055 or go to OdysseyTheatre.com.

Recommended for mature audiences: graphic language and violence.


Related Articles

Los Angeles THEATER Stories | Shows  Like BWW LA  Follow BWW LA


From This Author BWW News Desk

Before you go...