BWW Review: PUNK SNOT at Derby City Playwrights
Review by Kate Barry
So much depends on identity during youth and adolescence. How others see you, what music you listen to, what you wear, and what crowd you hang out with. Trivial yet all so important at the time. Vidalia Unwin's fresh, new play, Punk Snot explores a group of outcast teens who find salvation and safety in the Punk rock scene of the early 2000s. Decisions, individuality, and anger of youth are juxtaposed against selling out, struggles, and settling down into adulthood.
The script handles heavy issues such as sexual assault, domestic abuse, violence and social justice with a very matter of fact tone. As the play explores the lonely and unsafe world these characters live in, they find solitude in the loud clash and screams of Punk rock music. Desperately in need to escape whatever is the root of their struggle, Unwin shows an intimate and poignant point of view of so-called teenage anarchists and nonbelievers finding a place to belong. Focused on a music genre and trend so often rough around the edges, the script often reflects the isolation and camaraderie found in music-based social scenes.
Act one focuses on Brian (Tucker Keel), his bandmate, Matt (Lee Stein) their drummer Zack (Fallon Crowley) and loose cannon frontman, Fucking Jeff (Spencer Korcz). Set outside of a church, the action serves as a snapshot of this group of friends with a complicated dynamic. Keel's Brian is a hyperactive youth suppressed from living his truth. Stein provides an alpha dog foil for Keel as he throws around "faggot" with ease and uses brute force to start fights whenever he can. Where Keel and Stein struggle with toxic masculinity in the guise of punk rock music and trends, Korcz and Crowley deliver strong performances, juicy with tragic undertones. Crowley walks a fine line between stealth coolness and inner sadness as the runaway misfit. Korcz delivers a fully realized performance as the rebellious kid who will do literally anything if provoked. A character that is eager to please his peers, parents, and pastor of his church, Korcz is deeply physical and impulsive as Fucking Jeff.
The action moves forward fifteen years in the second act. Zach (Zach Stone) is now unhappily married in an abusive relationship, Brian (Corey Music) a wealthy pop music sellout, Matt (Joey Eberling) a single father in a custody battle and Fucking Jeff (Josh Rocchi) is a drug-addicted punk rocker with a savior complex. The first act ends with a church-going up in flames in the midst of a punk rock concert a la the Pussy Riot protests of 2011. The second act pays little attention to this major plot point and relies on flashbacks between a formidable tour in New Orleans and the present struggles. An aura of "fuck everything" is in the air as the four punks fall into drug use, violence, and terrifying situations.
While fascinating to watch in its controversial subject matter and brilliant, quick-witted humor, Punk Snot relies on the mistakes made in youth without fully providing redemption. In the end, tragically impulsive decisions are made. Decisions that stem beyond any fashion or music trend but rather, lingering unresolved conflict within themselves and each other.
July 12 @ 10:00pm
July 20 @ 8:00pm
July 25 @ 7:30pm
July 28 @ 5:30pm
Part of the 2nd Derby City Playwrights New Play Festival
For a full schedule of all seven plays, visit: derbycityplaywrights.org
Advanced Tickets: $18 / At the door: $20