The strength of the script almost negates the need for physical performance, as it is so beautifully written.
The piece encapsulates punk, with the play – a tale of the imaginary band Vandal Raptor coming together, exploring how age has affected their ideals and lifestyle – pieced together with scenes, songs and poetry, all performed by Henry Raby with spirited tenderness. The dynamic direction by Natalie Quatermass gives the play an edge that many productions lack: every essence of the small performance space and minimal set is used to their full potential, with Raby’s performance and a simple but effective use of different lighting states used to convey the multiple locations involved in the story. The strength of the script almost negates the need for physical performance, however, as it is so beautifully written; with an attention to small details and evocative imagery it demonstrates the power a good sense poetry has to produce a lyrical script.
Raby is a likeable and engaging performer, with the ability to hold an audience captivated on every word as he brings the different members of the band to life and performs his virtuosic punk poetry. He can convey a light touch of humour and moments of genuine affection, which is all the more touching because you know from his opening chat with the audience that this is something which is close to his heart.
That is what makes this show special, is that it is a real story about real issues and this feeling pervades every aspect of the performance. It does what it sets out to do, keeping the spirit of punk alive and human, not behind the glass case of a museum exhibit. It has soul, and human connection, and the little quirks of the show, particularly the parts of audience interaction such as the parish notices section, really display the possibility of what good theatre can be. Not only this, but the message of the show, asking what the legacy of punk is in 2017, gives the show purpose, inspiring you to go out into the world with a feeling of hope that we all have the ability to change things for the better. The spirit of punk is alive and well, and will be as long as Vandal Raptor is here.