This isn’t a sponsored post. BrumHour was invited to the press night of Rebel Music by Birmingham Rep.
By Dave Massey twitter.com/BrumHour
Please note this production contains frequent use of racial slurs and strong language.
Rebel Music at
Written by Robin French, directed by Alex Brown
Rebel Music is at Birmingham Rep until 5th October and explores the lives of two teenage girls in the 1970s in Birmingham.
Denise (Lauren Foster) and Trudi (Hannah Millward) have known each other since they were primary school age. Denise has a white mom and a black Jamaican dad while Trudi has an Irish mother and several siblings.
They both attend a gig in Birmingham where the lead singer tells “Foreigners” they are not welcome in this country. Denise joins a Rock Against Racism group where she meets Andrew (Nathan Queeley-Dennis). Her friendship with Trudi begins to fracture.
The story is told in a narration style as all the actors speak to us about their perspective and thoughts throughout, they all get to show off their range of accents and talent as they play other people in different scenes. There is plenty of musical numbers that serve to push the story forward, with re-written lyrics for Mr Blue Sky and many other songs from the 70’s.
Apart from the slightly awkward audience participation, where we are encouraged to stand up and dance in our narrow double “love” seats: I found this production to be rich in language and evoke the 1970’s easily. It’s quite shocking to hear the young actors using the racially aggressive language that seemed to be still used a lot in the 1980’s when I was growing up in Birmingham.
The set itself looks like a gig stage in a small club with square speaker boxes and circles on the wall onstage, the back wall and the entrance to the performance space are both filled with gig posters from events. I didn’t get to closely inspect these as we were arriving and leaving with a crowd.
This story is really all about Denise as we see and hear things through her eyes, the three actors have lovely vocals which echo through the room.
At one hour and fifty minutes with an interval this play zips on by at quite a pace and I found myself wanting to spend longer in this raw, harsh yet somehow simpler time.
Take a trip into the dark underbelly of Birmingham’s 1970s music scene, Rebel Music is at Birmingham Rep until 5th October. Book tickets here: birmingham-rep.co.uk/whats-on/rebel-music.html
This isn’t a sponsored post.
When not writing about theatre for BrumHour, or producing Interval Theatre for Brum Radio (Tuesdays 3pm) brumradio.com/intervaltheatre,
Dave Massey can be found eating crisps and claiming to be at the gym. And tweeting about Birmingham for #BrumHour.