PISTOL PACKEDTHE BADGER, May 1998
A musical about the Sex Pistols….Hmmmmmm – I’m sure Johnny Lydon would have had a lot to say about that. A musical about the Sex Pistols in The Gloucester of all places? I’m definately not sure about this one. When I get there, however, it appears to be the perfect setting: dingy black box, with one corner set up as a stage for the band. You can either sit on the balcony or at the seats to one side, and you really do feel like you’re at a gig. Nice!
Fittingly the play opens with a rendition of Anarchy in the UK (again, Lydon’s statements about hypocrisy come flooding back), and the band are actually quite good… they sound like the Sex Pistols. This is just as well really since most of the action revolves around the music, with a few ‘interview’ scenes, scenes of Maclaren manipulating the band and some Sid and Nancy scenes thrown in for good measure. George Dillon is intense and powerful as Lydon, even when sitting, hunched over a pint at the side of the stage. He seems to have Lydon’s performances down pat: he even sounds like him. The rest of the cast have their moments, but are in general competent.
If you are a huge Sex Pistols fan you’ll probably love it (or hate it….), and you should definitley go, even if its just for the chance to pogo to live Sex Pistols music. For anyone else, go anyway. The production is solid entertainment, the hour and half of your evening that it uses up, go quickly, and this is as close as you’ll ever get to a gig-ography’. anyway its worth it just to see Dillon’s Lydon get the last laugh!
‘To would-be rock’n’roll managers – take four kids who can’t play and make them hate each other’. Enter Malcolm McLaren, calculated marketing and packaging – the Sex Pistols are catapulted high-profile – and the seventies anarchic punk scene explodes.Jan Whitehead, THE STAGE, 28 May 1998
In Malcolm McKay’s searing biopic, no one escapes the vitriol. McLaren and the media are slimeballs. The slant is ‘who fucked-up whose life anyway?’
And do you care? You should, especially on the question of manipulation as in ‘the public wants what the public gets!’ Scary or what?
In hands less capable than Hanover Productions, directed by actor Chris Beaumont and staged at the Gloucester Nightclub in the Fringe Festival, the show could have been a no go.
But this strong company creates all the claustrophic self-loathing and bile mixed in adroitly with Pistols’ hits.
If you are easily offended – you will be here. But manipulation and the icons attacked by the Pistols are offensive to many people.
George Dillon’s Johnny Rotten is a haunting performance – ferocious, incisive and hideously compelling. His stage command is absolute, you look into ‘the black hole of fear’. When he is still, he pulsates danger.
Matthew Warburton has McLaren in sharp focus – slick, slimy – a neatly-packaged performance that hits the target. Adam Croft (Sid Vicious) is strong, pacing his disintegration skilfully. and is well matched by Isabel Scott-Plummer’s complex Nancy Spungeon.
Beaumont’s company, which includes Kevin Tucker, Tracy Forsythe, Mark Leftkovich and Juliet MacLeod, is nastily convincing. There is all the raw energy and fine detail, driving the show inexorably towards its burn-out climax.