The best theatrical works hold a mirror up to the audience and make them challenge and question their own lives and issues. As such, the fact I enjoyed this tale of four failed punk musicians going through a mid-life crisis probably tells you as much about me as it does about Reality Chokes.
Punk band Sonic Generation almost made it in the 70s. The classic irresistible cocktail of sex, drugs and rock & roll saw them fail however, and now – 30 years later – they are reunited for talk of a possible reunion. They turn up in a dingy rehearsal room, bringing with them their instruments, their wives and girlfriends and – most of all – their hang-ups, unresolved issues and neuroses.
The cast of Reality Chokes all put in accomplished performances, Lloyd Morris as Plod and Al Gregg as Dan in particular convincing as veterans of the great Punk Wars of the 70s. Cathy McMannon as Dan’s wife Chrissie is also excellent, her world-weariness dropping away as soon as she hears the Sonic Generation ‘classics’ of her youth being played once more.
Although as far removed from a musical as it is possible to be, Reality Chokes does feature loud, raw and live (and actually pretty good) punk numbers, both originals and plot-relevant covers such as The Buzzcocks’ “Ever Fallen In Love”, proving the cast are as handy with a guitar as they are with a script. There is also moments of performance poetry and rasta toasting which serve to punctuate the majority of the straight-played scenes and these work well as an original and often humourous narrative device.
Reality Chokes successfully holds your attention for its length and it is something of a mystery to me why it was so poorly-attended last night (14 in the audience including myself). Perhaps it only really appeals to those who see a pretty accurate reflection of themselves in the mirror it presents.
Reality Chokes runs until Aug 30th at the New Town Theatre. £11 (£10 concession)