In modern days we see children sitting on sofas transfixed by the television, absorbed into their mother’s iPad, or playing Candy Crush on their father’s mobile. Silent are the squeaking swings. Motionless are the marry-go- rounds. Empty are the tunnel slides. What’s happened to the adventure of play in the 21st Century?
Through exploration and imagination, Junkyard brings us back to the days when children protected their homemade forts in the outdoors. Headlong Theatre, Rose Theatre Kingston, Bristol Old Vic and Theatr Clwyd present Junkyard, a new musical about children discovering their own identities by building a junkyard playground.
When a new teacher, Rick (Calum Callaghan), comes to school, he encourages the school outcasts to build a playground. By creating a space of their own, Rick believes it will allow the children to harness their creativity and begin to work together to shape more positive futures. With the witty angst of the young children and the kindness of a patient teacher, Junkyard reminds us of struggles of growing up and making new friendships.
This musical had unique and upbeat sounds that followed the characters through emotional journeys. Though the children in the musical did not have perfect lives, they understood who they were in the eyes of others. Erin Doherty as Fiz was a whimsical young girl as she captured our hearts with witty language and her thoughtfulness of others. Though Fiz was meant to be the central focus in this musical, the other characters had more to them that the narrative could explore.
With the wide variety of backgrounds of lives, this musical could have focused on any one of the characters. The most touching song was when the audience finally learned more about Talc (Enyi Okoronkvvo) in his ballad. His story made a connection with Fiz, a connection that would have been even more moving to see between the other characters.
This coming-of-age musical is a story about standing up for what matters in our young children’s lives. We must not forget the art of imagination, discovery, and creation. Junkyard brings back the joy of adventure play by pushing imagination and creativity to build everlasting friendships.
Review by Aly Chromy
Directed by Jeremy Herrin, Junkyard is a wildly funny and vivid new musical with original score from Academy Award-winning composer Stephen Warbeck, about a miscreant group of misfit teenagers who come together to build an adventure playground.
It’s 1979, and a motley crew of teenagers grudgingly agree to create a junk playground in Bristol under the guidance of the well-meaning Rick. As the playground starts to come to life – it turns from something that means nothing to something that means a lot. And kids that care about nothing, start to care a lot. But darkness has a way of coming back and biting you when you least expect it.
Inspired by the true story behind the Lockleaze playground known as ‘The Vench’, established over 30 years ago and still operating today.
The full cast is Scarlett Brookes (Debbie), Calum Callaghan (Rick), Josef Davies (Ginger), Erin Doherty (Fiz), Kevin McMonagle (Malcolm), Enyi Okoronkwo (Talc), Seyi Omooba (Tilly), Lisa Palfrey (Mum), Jack Riddiford (Higgy) and Ciaran Alexander Stewart (Loppy).
The musicians are Musical Director Akintayo Akinbode on bass with Nadine Lee on drums and Dario Rossetti-Bonell on guitar.
Wed 19 Apr – Sun 30 Apr
A Headlong, Rose Theatre Kingston, Bristol Old Vic & Theatr Clwyd co-production
Book and lyrics by Jack Thorne, music by Stephen Warbeck, directed by Jeremy Herrin
Rose Theatre Kingston
24-26 High Street
London KT1 1HL
Running Time: 2 hours 15 minutes, including one interval