Home Entertainment Jubilee Review: A brave insight into a punk utopian world

Jubilee Review: A brave insight into a punk utopian world

Jubilee Review: A brave insight into a punk utopian world
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Guess what? Selected tickets are only £7 each week day for people under the age of 26, at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, meaning that the theatre is now accessible to students! Simply show your recent student ID card as well as a form of ID to show you are under 26 for 80% off full price tickets.

Here at Student Life Guide we have partnered with the Royal Exchange to keep you up to date on what’s on in the theatre this season. Check out our interview with Jubilee star Yandass here.

This week, I went to the press night of Jubilee, here’s what I thought.

A loud and fast paced play, yet one that also lacks in its story line

When sitting ready to watch the Royal Exchange Performance of Jubilee, one would have no idea what exactly to expect. For someone who had not watched the acclaimed film the play is based on, who has little interest in the punk movement and who relies heavily on a good programme synopsis, the idea of having to grasp the plot of this play was daunting.

The story starts with a rather typical image of Elizabeth I, Toyah Wilcox, returning to the punk stage, stars as the troubled Queen who asks her personal magician? Wizard? Priest? The lines are a trifle blurred here, to summon her up an angel to take her to the future to view how her beloved England turned out.

The angel, a rather punk like specimen, in white skinny jeans with peroxide bleached hair spiked on top of her head, decides to bring Elizabeth to the dystopian future of her island, which turns out to be the squat of a rather eclectic bunch, living in the 21st century.

The intensity of the youth movement is certainly displayed the instant this transition happens, as the characters burst onto the stage to heavy guitar music.

From gay, incestuous lovers, a sex addict, a rather eccentric and dangerous leader and a transgender spokesperson- the group displays the boundaries that they are adamantly pushing and ultimately breaking down within their era.

The story starts with a monologue, cited by Amyl Nitrate, the transgender leader, who comments that they are re-writing history, leaving out the kings and queens, and bringing in the stories of people. Amyl puts their finger on the pulse of the distraught times, bringing the audience up to date with the times, mentioning ‘David f**king Cameron and Jeremy f**king Corbyn’, the Grenfell Tower fire, ISIS and Donald Trump.

Concerning story line, it is a little obscure and often hard to follow, relying mostly on shock tactics in order to keep the audience engaged.

The links to the corruption of the modern day are also a little vague, there is the eccentric producer, who is meant to represent the greed and capitalism of the 21st century with artist Viv commenting to gay lovers and brothers Angel and Sphinx that capitalism happened the moment a monkey stole a banana from a smaller one. There is also the sex crazed character Crabs, who represents the fickle and fast paced speed of the modern day. Yet, in my opinion, these links are a little vague.

The characters are never properly introduced, leaving one to wonder about their names and their purpose, whilst Amyl’s character is also never fully explored, alongside their supposed gang, who apparently are killing people throughout the play, for reasons that once again never become quite clear.

The brothers do not really have any agency either, being either entangled in each other’s arms or getting anybody else they can to join them, whilst various other gang character such as Bod or Mad are of little sustenance also, simply displaying violent tendencies throughout.

The nudity, also, although maybe being there to represent the free loving and care free attitude of punk, is at times- simply unnecessary, with Mad running on stage naked to simply read a monologue of her approach to history.

There are also strange links to national pride, maybe a remark at the right-wing side of politics, as Amyl dances around with a union jack to a disco style version of rule Britannia, or comments are made to the lost future and hope of all the youth involved. I did like this aspect, as I thought it explored the political impact that has been hoisted onto the youth of today, from spiralling tuition fees to recalled and non existent grants.

I did like the input of Elizabeth I, whose shock and confusion at the current state of affairs was displayed well, although her character in my opinion was neglected for the more shocking aspects of the modern-day youth movement which seemed to take centre stage whilst bringing little to the storyline.

Jubilee is good for shocking the audience, for bringing up taboo topics and for exploring a generation that are struggling to be accepted.

Yet, from an over reliance on shock tactics and a rather obscure and difficult to follow story line, maybe in trying to make the play too different, they have lost the basis of the plot.

You can visit the Royal Exchange site to find out more on Jubilee here.

Elizabeth Whittingham Elizabeth is a third year history student studying at The University of Manchester.

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