AT THE THEATRE
Edinburgh Fringe 2018: Prehistoric @ Summerhall
This musical play was created by Elbow Room Productions who hail from Melbourne, Australia. It focuses on a group of four young people who become involved in Brisbane’s punk scene between 1977 and 1979: Deb Station (played by Brigid Gallacher), Nick Everything (played by Sahil Saluja), Pete Fender (played by Zachary Pidd) and Rachel Privilege (played by Grace Cummings). Together, they form their own band called Pink Monkey, with Deb on lead guitar, Nick on bass, Pete on drums and Rachel on vocals. However, the police, who don’t take too kindly to this new wave of youth rebellion in town, pursue all four of them relentlessly.
Prehistoric captures a time and place in Australian history in a strikingly vivid and energetic manner. At the same time, however, the nascent punk scene in the country during this period clearly mirrors its simultaneous rise on the other side of the world, right here in the United Kingdom. The four characters here (all of whom are superbly-drawn and get their own memorable moments in the story) are pissed off with the jaded 1970s rock scene, being treated like crap at work, other people’s bigoted mentalities and the constant blind national devotion to The Queen. In other words, just like the punks in Britain were at the time.
There are plenty of highlights and memorable moments. During the play’s 75-minute runtime, there are three punk-style musical numbers performed by the four actors. Grace Cummings is the definite standout during these bits, with her volcanic, almost masculine Johnny Rotten-style vocals and enraged stomping about the stage. While all four are great during the dramatic scenes, Zachary Pidd walks away with the honours as the most wired and restless of the bunch, being prone to such spontaneous gestures of rage as throwing his lighter against the wall and abruptly kissing a male friend in front of a homophobic boor. Other notable moments include some spine-chilling encounters with the city’s ruthless police (whose presence is implied by flashing red-and-blue stage lights and disembodied voices) and a scene where they hide out in a cinema showing Watership Down.
Prehistoric is an impassioned hymn to both the rationale behind and the heady thrill of youthful rebellion. It’s yet another highlight from Summerhall’s Fringe 2018 lineup.
Tickets are available from the following link: