Heroes

Exploding Whale Theatre’s coming of age romp Heroes is set against the backdrop of Bowie’s rise to superstardom in 1972. A time when Bowie was inspiring misfits and outsiders to release their inner selves, and while the bright lights of the city seemed so much more adventurous and exciting than small town mundanity. This ideology, and the pitfalls that come with it, is what the play is about at its core; in the end, reality will slap you in the face, no matter how bright the lights of your dream are.

Some exciting new writing which sensitively deals with some serious issues.

The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars was used brilliantly as a soundtrack; it added just enough to the emotion and drive of the play, without overshadowing any performances. In fact, the admirable energy of most of the actors matched the high octane sounds of Bowie pretty well.

Some fantastically raw and human performances from the three leads, the lost teenage misfits Billie (Bebe Barry), Joe (Henry Lewis) and Tin-Head (Gregory Birks), should not go unmentioned. Their chemistry was great, their dialogue was slick and playful when it needed to be, and their characters were well defined and believable. Joe and Billie’s rough and tumble physicality with each other was full of energy and pulled off perfectly. Tin-Head was just heart-breaking, all the more so for his occasional moments of endearing humour. However, there were some less convincing moments from the four London squatters (Julian Bailey-Jones; Dan Ciotkowski; Elinah Saleh; Hester Tallack) who could have done with being a little rougher around the edges.

Parts of the story let down the play as a whole. In an otherwise mature and affecting piece of theatre, the miraculous friendliness – and smugness – of Pinkie and her gang was a little sugary. Perhaps, however, the unrealistic nature of these characters is the whole point; they come to symbolise the naïve expectations of those who run away from home to look for big-city excitement.

There were some great scenes which were jam packed with gusto and enthusiasm. The play does this very well, mirroring Bowie’s music in how it amps up the atmosphere to a joyous racket, and then pulls it right back down to a sobering reality.

Overall, some exciting new writing which sensitively deals with some serious issues. If you’re a Bowie fan, this is definitely one to see.

Reviews by Chloe-Louise Saunders

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Performances

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The Blurb

A coming of age story set in the summer of 1972 to the soundtrack of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. The humdrum lives of Joe and Billie are changed forever after witnessing David Bowie performing Starman for the first time on Top of the Pops. Determined to attend Bowie's upcoming London gig, the friends leave home on what becomes a journey of self discovery where the lines between hero worship and friendship become blurred.

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