Sometimes a play sticks to your ribs and makes it hard to breathe, or hard to move.

Simon Stephens’ Punk Rock has found its way into the wooden heart of the wharf, in ATYPs Under the Wharf season with a bright and ambitious collective (Pants Guys Productions) and my dear friend Anthony Skuse at the helm. I have been watching the work of Pants Guys Productions as their portfolio of work proliferates – they are everywhere – passionate and ready.

If anyone knows the burning urgency to escape a small town life, its me. And though half my lifetime ago, there is a strange and unsettling ressonance in the words that cascade out of William Carlisle’s mouth – the aspiration to be better than here and now. If anyone love the punk aesthetic it is me – the desire for do it yourself, alternative to mainstream commerical consumer culture – the idea of hand made, unique music – I turn to The Dead Kennedys to rev me up and Sonic Youth to calm me down.

The burden for youth is, and always will be massive – a giant load of history (success and failure) weighs heavily on their shoulders, they have inherited a world they didn’t design or shape. They are born into situation and families that they can’t control. Plus there is an animal instinct for status and sex developing in equal ferocity. Simon Stephens’ Punk Rock grabs the ropes holding all these young people in place, and tugs at them like a skinhead carillon player and we can all hear the sounds from miles around.

The burden of youth is beauty they can’t see, energy they can’t focus, intelligence that is disctracted by the petty and the superficial.
In Skuse’s direction we see the waiting room of students before the mock trials- the agony of lust, the pain of expectation, the observations that five packets of skittles makes your brain feel amazing. We see a fine ensemble cast (Sam O‚ÄôSullivan, Graeme McRae, Madeleine Jones, Darcie Irwin Simpson, Rebecca Martin, Owen Little, Paul Hooper, Clementine Mills, Gabriel Fancourt)

The burden of youth is the responsibility for the world it feel too late to shape. And from the mind of Chadwick Meade we have the articulate and hopeless explosion that predicts the downfall of the planet by the hands of humans.

Unfortunately this production is too well timed. And it seems a regular occurance that some person somewhere in the world – Denmark or Denver, Oklahoma or Port Arthur feels the burden of the responsibility of the world and opts out.

Skuse has found the softness, the kindness and the generosity is each of the characters – he’s allowed the actors to find their love story within the terror and the terrified scenes. He’s beautifully breathed patience and kindness into a brutal situation. This play is a major work for Simon Stephens – and this production is a major work of Anthony Skuse. The vision of Pantsguys is a growing and impressive bandwagon of talent – I suggest you get on it.