Sunday, 20 September 2009

THOUGHTS: “Kurt and Sid”

(Sorry for the lack of updates, everyone. I’ve been rather busy lately working on my own shows lately - one of which is part of Scratch Festival at BAC this coming weekend - and writing those has drained me of my ability to bother writing reviews. That said, here goes a try...)

I remember when Kurt Cobain died. Nirvana had been the hottest band around, and though I didn’t have a copy of Nevermind, my sister had picked up a used CD of In Utero, sneaking it in past our mother’s overzealous eye (electric guitars in general were too much for her.) I remembered the controversy over the cover art and “Rape Me,” the brilliance of the MTV Unplugged performance, and how my 8th grade lit teacher told us that Cobain should never have been a role model because of his drugs and emphasised the pointlessness of the “Life’s not 100% fun anymore” line in the suicide note.

As someone who hated his classmates and most of his teachers, I thought she was full of shit. And I still do.

So now in Trafalgar 2 we have Kurt and Sid, a fantasia set in the hours before Cobain’s suicide. A frustrated Kurt is in the attic of his suburban home when the vision of Sid Vicious appears. To cut 95 minutes (including interval) short, this Sid (who is, as he puts it, “way too smart” to be the real Sid) is Cobain’s subconscious attempting to talk him out of the act. That’s about as close to a spoiler as anybody can really get, because we all know how it’s going to end.

Needless to say, I found myself asking what the point is (and doing my best not to ask the author, who was in attendance). Cobain’s life has been covered in numerous biographies, and his own journals are available at bookstores everywhere, and for less than the price of a ticket. There’s some witty banter in Roy Smiles’s script, but no real insight: Cobain’s relationship with Courtney Love was idealised with no mention of the two’s constant fighting, his medical issues are written off, and he comes across as the media slanted him 15 years ago: a whiny poster-boy ungrateful for his fame and taking an easy way out.

Production-wise, there are few complaints: Shaun Evans has Cobain’s signature drawl though he never quite channels the real thing’s complexity, and Danny Dyer is a calm yet verbally feisty Vicious both in and out of reality. Cordelia Chisholm’s set is a cluttered attic strewn with toys and records, the old cliche about a cluttered mind come appropriately to life.

Complaints aside, I’m glad I saw Kurt and Sid - the rising alternative rock scene was one of the best parts of the 90's, and we're about to hit that on the global nostalgia cycle. That said, I’m also glad that I didn’t pay for it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to soak up "Jesus Don’t Want Me For A Sunbeam."

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