STAGE REVIEW: Goth Weekend @ Live Theatre (12.10.17) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Meet Belinda – one time cult-hero 90’s Queen of the Goths, and now a struggling singer playing near-empty bar back rooms in a guitar and keys duo with her son Simon (stage name Bram).

Meet Kenneth – a fairly recent widower whose deadpan daughter Anna is trying desperately to get him back on his feet.

This unlikely pair accidentally meet in a pub in Scarborough and pretty soon Belinda’s moved in, much to the chagrin of their respective children.

What follows is a heartfelt and honest culture-clash comedy with impeccably thought-through and fleshed out characters that presses all of the buttons.

In many ways, Goth Weekend deliberately follows a strict rom-com formula, but is worked well enough for this to become a positive, more satisfying than predictable, allowing the story space to breathe.

And breathe it does. This is a four hander performed impeccably across the board. Jess Johnson enlivens the stage as the fiery Belinda, while Sean McKenzie plays Ken, the straight man of the double act, with superb comic effect. Amy Trigg and Gurjeet Singh play the teenage children with fantastic subtlety, reaching beyond the stereotype of sulky teenagers to embody young characters sincerely struggling to come to grips with their lives as they’re thrown into new and unusual worlds.

What was most impressive about this show for me was its thematic breadth. It’s a coming of age story; it’s about dealing with bereavement and new relationships in early-middle age. It’s a story about sexuality, community, identity and how we define, or refuse to define, ourselves and each other. It’s a story about rainy days and seaside towns in East Yorkshire and about searching for belonging. And yet this content never feels crammed in – it’s all integral, well worked and thought through. It’s difficult to think of anyone that it would not be relatable, accessible and appealing to.

It’s difficult to criticise this show. The sound of pub babble played through the opening scene was irritating, as was the decision to stop said babble just when it had become normalised, for the poignant bit of the scene. But this is a minor quibble in a show very, very worth seeing.

The specificity and economy of story and language employed by writer Ali Taylor, along with some beautiful moments and great comic one liners, brought out brilliantly by director Paul Robinson make for an emotional rollercoaster which has all the comfort and security of watching a DVD in your living room as well as all the danger of watching live performance.

Add to this some superb costumes and a great soundtrack, and this makes for an evening of entertainment not to be missed. Seriously, don’t miss it.

Goth Weekend runs Tuesday 28th October at Live Theatre, Newcastle. Alongside are several post-show events such as Meet the Writer, Meet the Cast and an end-of-run costume Halloween Party!

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